In my taco truck (AKA La Lonchera) introduction I mentioned that a lot of taco trucks have specialties. Nowhere is that more true and delicious than La Lonchera Dos Hermanos. These two brothers from Zacatecas, Mexico, specialize in two tacos, and make them as good as I've ever had. Memo (short for Guillermo) mans the window and does the talking. He looks tired this afternoon, and he should be. He works all week washing windows and then, either for fun or necessity or both, sets up shop on the weekend selling what is a masterpiece of a taco. His brother Lasaro is off to the side cooking and preparing the tacos. It's a beautiful thing really. These two brothers, part of the faceless and thankless workforce that keeps our city running, are also quietly and faithfully making some of the best food Denver has to offer.
From their lonely location in a relatively empty lot on the Northwest corner of Colfax and Xanthia, it is understandable why so many unknowing people pass it by. The parking lot is usually empty. The truck stands alone in a lot belonging to a night club that isn't even open by the time the brothers have to leave at 7 PM. The hand-lettered sign they put out facing Colfax is makeshift at best, and doesn't exactly grab one's attention. To make things worse, there is another taco truck two blocks away with fresh detailing, flashy painted lettering and a prime location on a busy intersection.
And Memo and Lasaro make a mean taco. The absolute specialty is Tacos al Vapor, a traditional dish from the brothers' home state of Zacatecas. Tacos al vapor literally means "steamed taco". It is steamed beef, shredded and served in a steam-warmed corn tortilla. It is topped with the usual suspects of onion and cilantro, and finished with a light and spicy red salsa. It is soft, tender, virtually grease-free and it is so good it is addicting. The other taco they do to perfection is lengua. Lengua is tongue. Tongue scares off a lot of Americans but is a tender, richly flavored meat. It is worth trying for the first time here, and if you don't like it here, then you just don't like tongue. And while I think it's great, I come for the Vapor, and I recommend a 5:1 Vapor to Lengua ratio.
Memo and Lasaro used to have a piece of prime real estate: the bustling corner of Montview and Clinton between two predominantly Mexican strip malls. This year they were kicked out of the Montview location and had to scramble to find this one in front of an empty night club. The politics and the licensing requirements for the "mobile food trucks", as the city refers to them, is complicated, but the first need is a property owner willing to play host. The old owner complained that Memo and Lasaro's truck was crowding the parking lot, but I would venture to say that what really happened was that the brothers' tacos were so much better than the two restaurants in the strip mall that they were threatening business. Because seriously, if you've ever been to Montview and Clinton on a Friday afternoon, you didn't turn around and go home because there wasn't a parking space.
So that brings us back to the sad and scrumptious corner of Colfax and Xanthia. My wife and I stand at the truck's counter and eat one after another of these incredible tacos. We watch the busy afternoon traffic race by and I think of how many people would like this place if only they would stop. I see in Memo's bloodshot, swollen and fatigued eyes that he is thinking the same thing. He is powerless to change his situation currently, but is hopeful that more business will come soon. And there is hope, because these tacos are so damn good. While we are there chatting a guy walks up and skeptically decides to order two tacos. He takes a bite, his eyes light up and he nods his head while he chews. He quickly finishes them off then flashes two fingers up towards Memo with his mouth still full. Two more. Memo and Lasaro only need the people to come. The tacos will do the rest.
Los Hermanos Lasaro and Memo only serve tacos Friday and Saturday afternoons until about 7 PM on the Northwest corner of 8700 East Colfax and Xanthia (2 blocks west of Yosemite). The tacos are $1. Call Memo if you want to be sure he is there: 720-621-8686