Taco Time street food?

So, at my gal's request tonight I ran to McDonald's to get McFlurrys...McFlurries?  However you would spell the plural of McFlurry, I went to get some for us and the kids.  They dig them, and while it's not my kind of thing it did sound like a good way to combat all the salt and oil in my system (more on that in an upcoming entry).  While I was in line at the drive-through, I glanced across the street at Taco Time and their reader board said "STREET TACOS ARE BACK".  Now I remember something about this some time ago, maybe last year.  I'd seen the ads but hadn't worked up the nerve to try them.  For some reason, this time it stuck in my head to the point of obsession.  I looked up the promotion on their website, where the "street tacos" were described as "Juicy all-white chicken or tender pork carnitas on soft corn tortillas, with diced onions and fresh cilantro for that authentic Mexican flavor."  Once the McFlurry had settled my stomach, I called Taco Time to make sure they were still open and then headed over there.  This time I saw signs in the windows vaguely resembling this:

Now I wouldn't say I'm an expert on taco trucks, but I do seem to end up at one roughly once a week (especially since I started this blog).  I'd dare say I've been to half a dozen different trucks in just the past two months, and when I order carnitas tacos, I expect a few things...

  • Carnitas is generally shredded pork, lightly fried to give it a slightly crispy texture.

  • Each taco will contain perhaps 1/4 cup of meat, topped with a generous sprinkling of onion and cilantro.

  • The corn tortillas (usually two per taco) tend to be a little dry, which is why the sauce is important.

  • Sauces will always be available, either bottled and sitting out for customers, applied directly to the tacos by the cook, or given in little plastic cups.  Both red and green sauces are almost always provided.

Perhaps my first indication that something was wrong should have been the fact that they had no special authentic Mexican salsas to give their tacos "that authentic Mexican flavor".  All they had was the same selection as always, so I opted for standard red and spicy green.  Once I arrived home I opened the over-sized paper bag, threw away the plastic fork (?!), opened the plastic to-go container and was confronted with this:

Thinking back I was pretty sure the ad didn't mention anything about a giant pile of lettuce and tomato.  I've also never gotten that when ordering tacos on the street.  Some of the trucks offer "super tacos" that can include lettuce, tomato, avocado, sour cream, cheese, etc., but I don't think that's what they were supposed to be going for here.  After I cleared away the extraneous vegetation, this is what I had left:

Taco Time's "street tacos"

Okay, so we're getting a little closer here.  The onions look good, the meat needs to be redistributed so it's more even between the two tacos.  But where is the cilantro?  Just those few scattered green flakes clinging to the onions?  Let's look at some real street tacos, shall we?

Lorena's Mexican Grill's street tacos

Yeah, definitely a major difference in the amount of cilantro.  I never even tasted it.  And forget what I said about Lorena's tortillas being a little greasy, Taco Time's are easily three times as bad, and without the resulting crispiness and flavor.  The meat tasted like it had come from a slow cooker, more like pot roast than what I'm used to thinking of as carnitas.  A squeeze of lime and some of the spicy green sauce gave a little bite but didn't make up for the overall lack of flavor.  The second taco I tried with a bunch of the lettuce and tomato and the house red sauce, and it ended up tasting like what it was: a Taco Time taco.  It was nice to have satisfied my morbid curiosity, but a little disheartening to think that I could have gotten three times the flavor, not to mention as much as twice as many tacos, from any of the quality trucks in town.  If you're like me and just want to know what they're trying to accomplish, or if you've never had street tacos and think this might be a good introduction, I hope I've described it well enough for you to save your four bucks.  Go get some real street tacos.  They're all over the Boise area, and they're worth it.

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