Smile Politely

Juanito’s Tacos: A hidden taco truck worth the search

I jump at any opportunity I get to eat at an overlooked, or lesser known restaurant. Juanito’s Tacos is exactly that, and is a hidden gem. This food truck operates out of an old enclosed pull-behind trailer, and is bright orange so you’re sure to spot it. The only thing hidden about this taco truck is the location. The truck is regularly parked in one of two locations: on campus just east of Grainger Library on Mathews Street, or on North Market street in the parking lot of Suds City Laundromat, just southeast of Toys “R” Us.

The menu is short, sweet and to the point; there are just the right amount of options to choose from. Of course there are tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, but one thing I found different about Juanito’s was the Cuban torta and the super burro. The Cuban torta was described as being served with four types of meat and the sandwich as a whole was twice the size of a normal torta. The super burro was described as being three times the size of a regular burrito and was on the menu as “sharable with up to 3 amigos”!

It was a rainy night when I left yoga to go hunt down Juanito’s Tacos. Once I found it I was able to walk up and order, thanks to the rain for scaring away other customers. I decided to stick with tacos because that is most direct route to my heart: I ordered three traditional tacos (steak, chicken, and pork) as well as one super taco (chicken). Each traditional taco was $2.25 and the super taco was only $2.75.

I watched inside as my food was prepared. The tortillas were the traditional small corn tortillas that the gentleman put onto the flattop grill to warm and crisp up as he placed portions of each meat onto the grill to also warm up. It didn’t take long before I was walking away with a container full of delicious tacos.

The tacos came nicely presented in the container, and there were also two small cups inside, one with a red sauce and one with a green sauce. Trying the sauces on their own, the red seemed to be spicier than the green, although neither were too spicy to enjoy. The green also had a very nice hint of garlic, my favorite of the two. The traditional tacos came with two small shells, meat of choice, onion, and cilantro. The taco super taco came with two shells, meat of choice, onion, lettuce, tomato and cheese.

The tortillas were delicately crisp along the edges, while perfectly warm and soft inside. I must admit, the traditional chicken taco was by far my absolute favorite out of the four by a long shot. The chicken tasted as if it had been marinated in something smoky, the mixture of simple flavors between the chicken, onion, and cilantro were on point. The steak was still very tasty; it was certainly greasier than the chicken, but that was as to be expected. And while the steak was tasty, it looked and tasted very similar to ground beef which is not what I necessarily expected when ordering a steak taco. The pork was a close second; it was marinated and cooked with pineapple. The pineapple came as a surprise when I bit into the taco, but it was a very pleasant surprise; the pineapple gave the pork a really nice sweetness that when combined with the spiciness from the red sauce was impeccable. Each taco paired well with either of the complimentary sauces.

If you are someone who enjoys traditional style, simple tacos than I would certainly recommend ordering the regular tacos. The super taco was good if you’re into Americanized tacos with lettuce and cheese. All four of the tacos came with a very generous portion of meat, falling out of the taco at a very reasonable price. I have no complaints from my experience, though one recommendation would be to offer some sort of seating, even if it were just one picnic table. Juanito’s also does not accept credit cards so come prepared with cash and an empty stomach.

All photos by Brian Plotner.

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