The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 "Classic" Food Trucks
What differentiates a "classic" food truck from those on last week's list of Houston's Top 10 "Fancy" Food Trucks?
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt Houston's classic food trucks offer more than just tacos, such as the arepas found at Sabor Venezolano.
For starters, a classic food truck has been around for at least a few years prior to the gourmet food truck craze -- if not a decade longer. Classic food trucks are usually found at their same spot every single day, decamping only to visit the commissary and then quickly reclaiming their time-worn location in the parking lot of a car wash, a grocery store or an auto repair place.
And, as inveterate taco truck blogger Jay Rascoe of Guns & Tacos put it in a 2011 guide to Houston's best taco trucks: "The true taco truck, the humble servant of the diverse world of mobile cuisine, does not tout self-congratulatory and misleading terms such as 'gourmet' or 'chef-driven.'"
Without further ado, here are our 10 favorite classic trucks -- not just taco trucks -- in Houston:
10. El Norteño
Photo by Ed Schipul
Pech and Hillendahl
There are few simple pleasure in life more intense or rewarding than a perfectly roasted chicken, its skin caramelized to a savory crisp. If roasted correctly, the chicken's buttery fat will infuse the flesh with a savory sweetness that's far better than any added herbs, garlic or other marinades. Such is the case at the bright blue El Norteño trucks that line Long Point from Gessner up to Wirt. My favorite is in the parking lot of the flea market that sits between Pech and Hillendahl. A whole roasted chicken will easily feed four people and comes with a whole roasted onion, roasted jalapeños, peppy salsa and plenty of corn tortillas, all for less than $15.
9. Taqueria Tariacuri
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Harwin and Fondren
Chili Bob's Houston Eats first turned me on to this food truck, which shares a parking lot with famous knockoff-avenue Harwin's answer to Gallery Furniture: Galaly Furniture. No kidding. The tacos at Taqueria Tariacuri are only average, but you're coming here for a pambazo -- the Mexican sandwich that blows tortas and cemitas out of the water. As with the tortillas at Taco Keto below, the pambazo bread is dipped into ruddy guajillo sauce before it's griddled alongside (and sometimes on top of) the roughly diced fajita beef that goes inside. The result is a hot sandwich with typical torta fillings -- refried beans, lettuce, crema, tomatoes and crumbly, salty cheese -- sandwiched between buns that are barely crispy, buttery and rich with the flavor of roasted guajillo chiles.
8. Antojitos Hondureños
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
7171 Fondren near Croton
It's tough to miss this bright blue-and-white setup on Fondren just off the Southwest Freeway, which is one of the most welcoming food trucks on this list -- even if it's stationed in the parking lot of an abandoned Grandy's. Antojitos Hondureños has two locations, although I've only ever been to its Sharpstown spot (the other is at 9713 Airline). As the name would suggest, the truck specializes in Honduran snacks and "appetizers," like the folded-over baleadas that are neither taco nor gordita nor anything else, but something wholly Honduran: refried beans, crema, salty cheese and your choice of meat inside a thick, soft flour tortilla. There are plenty of other great Honduran dishes on the menu here to choose from, but the baleadas are my favorite outside of Honduras Mayan in Bellaire.