The taco truck is the equivalent of the street taco stands that line streets all over Mexico. Like the street stands, tacos trucks often set up shop on the same corner or parking lot and have many regular, loyal customers. Likewise, a lot of them have a specialty or two. At a taco truck it's always good to see what other people are eating, order what is being advertised or just ask about a specialty.
The other day while car-shopping on Havana I came across a new one, called La Costera, a couple blocks south of 6th on the west side of the street. Apparently it has only been there two months. What caught my eye was the good-sized grill next to it that was pouring out smoke. That usually means one thing in the taco world: Pollo Asado.
The sign beckons you--with an alternate spelling:
Basically it is just grilled chicken, but when done right (over open charcoal flame), it is perfectly charred, golden and with just enough spice. I love this stuff. We parked and I almost ran around the truck to see the grill, which was just being opened. It all looked perfectly done and smelled amazing. I wasn't really hungry a few minutes ago, but all of a sudden I was ready to throw down. Usually I like to get a half chicken, some tortillas and salsa.That way I can make a few tacos but also eat it right off the bone. But since we were in a hurry, I just ordered some tacos.
Chicken tacos are often the worst thing on the menu in a taco joint. A lot of places just boil chicken and shred it on the tortilla. They end up with not a lot of flavor, chewy, dry and are not worth ordering. However, if the pollo is asado, then it's a different story.
The tacos here were good. Different, but good. Most of the menu was seafood, so I think that the taco topping was made to compliment the seafood tacos. It was more like a slaw with finely chopped cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes and onion. It was also sweetened--I think with a lot of lime juice. For me it didn't work so much on the chicken, which was also a little disappointing. It was moist and cooked perfectly, but it was under-spiced and got lost a little under the topping and the red salsa (which was excellent).
But not to worry, there was a happy ending, because another item on the menu caught my attention: the Taco Vampiro. Vampire Taco? Never heard of it but that had to be good. It was two open-faced grilled corn tortillas filled sandwich-style with carne asada (grilled steak), melted cheese, cilantro, onions and something spicy like Serrano chiles. The carne asada was soft, tender and flavorful and the tortillas gave it a nice crunch. As you can imagine, with the melting cheese oozing all over and the other fillers, it was a greasy, tasty, good time.
So if you find yourself shopping for cars on Havana, pull on into La Costera. Try the pollo asado if you haven't before, just know that there is better grilled Mexican-style chicken to be found in Denver. And whatever you do, definitely get into some Tacos Vampiros. For that I will be back.