This article appears in the Sept./Oct. 2015 issue of Omaha Magazine.
With mobile food trucks all the rage, Omaha’s lucky to have several standout vehicular victual ventures. While the origin of the food truck is rooted all the way back in the Wild West chuck wagon, the modern food truck era in Omaha rebooted with the humble taco truck helming the fleet.
That’s right, from gourmet pizza to award-winning barbecue to divine, locally sourced chicken sandwiches, the current boom of local food trucks has its lineage in that flavorful wonder on wheels—the once lowly taco truck.
A visit to Taqueria El Rey’s taco truck at the southeast corner of 27th and Leavenworth streets proves a very worthy stop, whether for a quick work lunch, an on-the-fly snack, or a portable weekend picnic. If you’ve seen this truck parked near the Supermercado Nuestra Familia—the store at 29th and Leavenworth streets with the moustachioed jalapeño pepper mascot—you’ll now find it just two blocks east. According to a super-friendly woman working the window, who totally let me practice my nascent Spanish skills, the truck started rolling to a stop at this slightly different location in early December 2014.
We visited fresh off a weeklong trip to Mexico and ready for some food so authentic it might transport us back south of the border.
Diners choose from tacos, tortas, burritos, and quesadillas—all $5 or less. Options include asada (steak), pastor (seasoned pork), pollo (chicken), chorizo (Mexican-style sausage), carnitas (fried pork), cachete (beef cheek), and more. Vegetarians can be accommodated with rice/bean/cheese/ veggie-based configurations of menu items—just ask.
Part of the fun of the taco truck is watching the diverse neighborhood pass by as you await your chow. The college students ahead of us patiently laugh away their wait, a pair of teenage joggers dash past, cars stream by, an older Spanish-speaking patron orders in a smiling exchange with the pleasant woman at the counter, a toddler rides to the order window on her father’s shoulders.
They call our name, handing us a tightly tied bag which nonetheless emits a delightful aroma—deep and rich from spices and simmered meats, yet light and zesty from fresh garnishes. Inside we find our pastor and cachete tacos, the flavorful, tender meat topped with finely diced onions and ample cilantro, each served traditional style in two small, layered corn tortillas accompanied by lime wedges. The carnitas torta, with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and a dab of mayo is served on bread that’s alternately soft and crusty in all the right places. The chorizo quesadilla, served with lettuce, tomato, and crema Mexicana (akin to sour cream), bursts with flavor. Sides of yummy red and green sauce accompany all dishes. Both are fresh and piquant, but not overwhelmingly spicy. It’s hard to choose a favorite.
Like a perfectly placed dash of hot sauce, the El Rey taco truck brings just the right spice to this urban neighborhood.