A visit to my folks' place in New Mexico always includes several trips to Santa Fe, about an hour's drive away.
We hop into the car and drive -- under that expansive, jaw-droppingly gorgeous turquoise sky -- into 'town' to stock up on groceries, pick up the necessities that will see us through another year in Asia and, of course, eat. This is our chance to answer cravings for Mexican and American Southwestern flavors that can't be satisfied halfway around the world.
This year we revisited an old favorite, a carniceria (meat/butcher shop) that serves freshly made burritos, tacos, and tortas, as well as a daily special. We feasted on wonderfully comforting soup -- clear pork broth packed with juicy golf balls of chopped pork, wedges of summer squash, carrots, and rice -- and an ethereal torta stuffed with roasted barbacoa (goat meat).
The torta was so special, with a toasted soft bun spread with chunky guacamole sandwiching tender shreds of meat lightly crisped on the griddle, that we ordered a second. Alternating mouthfuls of bread and meat (anointed with a drizzle of fiery salsa made with dried and roasted chilies) with nibbles from a hot-as-hell roasted jalapeno, we ate until we were stuffed.
And then there was Tacqueria La Chabolita, a new (since our last visit to New Mexico, anyway) taco truck that beckoned with its cheeky graphics (a huge avocado on the front and back of the truck, a big head of lettuce and floaty, swirly red peppers as background to a menu of tacos and burritos on the front) and then drew us back not once but twice with its tasty offerings.
We tried the tacos - lengua (tongue), barbacoa, azada (roasted beef), tripas (tripe), and al pastor (pork); the tripas and azada stood out especially for their deep, almost gamey flavors. Browned and caramelized onion wedges add a sweet note and the green salsa served alongside has a pleasant tart edge.
Equally delicious was this outfit's gordita, two thick flour tortillas browned on the griddle enclosing a choice of meats (azada pictured below), beans, and melted cheese with a bit of tang.
The steady business that this truck was enjoying on each of our three visits is a testimony to the deliciousness of its offerings. Each item is cooked to order and the wait can be tortuous. But don't let that deter you. It certainly didn't keep us from returning again, and again.
Carniceria Santa Fe, Felipe Street (at corner of Cerillos Road - a side street just across from the El Rey Inn), Santa Fe New Mexico. 505-983-7281.
Tacqueria La Chabolita, Cerillos Road (across the street from Cottonwood Motel -- and just a few blocks from Carniceria Santa Fe)