Taqueria El Paisa

Taqueria El Paisa

3900 Sullivant Ave
Columbus, 43228
614.302.0788

Open 10am – 9pm (sometimes close earlier)
Now only open Saturday-Monday

Click here to map it!

We were sad to see Little Mexico close at the end of last year but the oldest taco truck in Columbus has new owners and keeps on trucking. There’s always a little anxiety when a truck we love changes owners. Will it still be as good? In the case of El Paisa we didn’t need to worry. So far it may even be an improvement.

menu taqueria el paisa

The menu is mostly the same, the standard taco truck fare of tacos, tortas, burritos, gorditas and quesadillas but El Paisa have added huaraches to the line up. Everything we’ve eaten so far has been very well made. The gorditas are a little different and come with beans, meat, cheese (crumbled queso fresco), cilanto and onion. No sour cream or tomato. We like them this way.

Where El Paisa really excels is in their meat. We’ve sampled the barbacoa, chorizo, carnitas and steak and have been impressed. They make their own chorizo from scratch.

They’ve also added lengua, huraches and ceviche tostadas.

taqueria el paisa

On Mondays tacos are $1. 

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Late Night Taco Trucks at the Continent

In the early 1980’s, the Continent near the intersection of SR 161 and Busch Blvd., was the place to be in Columbus. The location housed the French Market, which added an international feel to the city with a food court of various foods, independent shops that had a faux French Village Motif and lots and lots of people coursing through the area. The area was dead by the mid 1990’s. In the last few years, the place has had a minor rebirth as a destination for the young Latino population of Columbus. On Friday, Saturday and especially Sunday nights, the night clubs are full. If you did not look at the license plates in the parking lot you could think you were in Houston, Santa Fe, Southern California or even parts of Mexico City. Mixed among the throngs of the young ladies with short skirts, bangle ear rings and three-inch heels and macho boys in Cowboy hats and urban wear you will find two Taco Trucks serving the crowds and keeping it real in the neighborhood.

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El Tizoncito has been at the location for over a year. Don Pedro’s (well known to the writers of TTC) has migrated to this spot in early 2013 and found it to be very profitable. Tizoncito parks in front of Euphoria Night Club Friday to Sunday from 7:30 pm to 3:30 am.

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Don Pedro’s pops out the panbazo’s Friday to Sunday until 4 am in front of Spain Night Club. The club complex is more centrally located and more upscale than many other Taco Truck locations in town. There is also a bit of a sense of “turf” here, so if you are going to visit to appreciate the food and the culture, you may feel that you really stand out from the crowd. Do make sure you know some Spanish if you plan on doing more than ordering food to go.

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Four Years of Taco Trucking

taco trucks columbus ohio

In the beginning, we had no idea if anyone would read this blog. Mobile Mexican food – we knew we were enthusiastic about it, but would anyone care?

To our shock and delight, they did. It’s our sense that the taco trucks in Columbus have, in the past four years, emerged from obscurity to become a point of pride for the city. They certainly have for us. In the mean time, we’ve seen two trucks graduate to bricks & mortar restaurants, and we’ve seen one of them ranked as serving one of the four best tacos in the US.

And, we’ve seen the truck scene mature and, perhaps, reach a critical mass. The total number of them remains consistent, and change mostly comes in the form of trucks changing hands (though our most recent post, Los Sartenes, is a brand new debut). As such, activity on this site is less frenetic than it was at the beginning, but we want to reassure you – we do continue to monitor the goings on in the taco truck world, and are still dedicated to bringing you new content as it is made available.

And, in the mean time, two thirds of the Taco Trucks Columbus team also run Columbus Food Adventures – our local food tour company. It was begun, in no small part, due to the desire we found among people to visit taco trucks, and our Taco Truck Tour is easily one of our most popular itineraries. If you’d like to take a tour with the founders of Taco Trucks Columbus and taste our favorite dishes from our favorite trucks, we’d love to see you – tour tickets can be purchased at ColumbusFoodAdventures.com.

Also, we’d encourage you to check out the preview of Transfusion, showing on Saturday, May 11th, at the The Gateway Film Center at 4:00 pm. It’s a documentary focusing on Columbus taco trucks, both in general and with a special focus on the plight of one local taco truck and the family they left behind in San Luis Potosi. We’ve seen an impressive extended trailer of the film and are definitely going to catch this showing!

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Los Sartenes

taco trucks columbus

901 S. James Road
614.439.5308
Facebook
@lossartenes 

Click here to map it!

Through our experiences with taco trucking, we’ve learned to be concerned for anyone that debuts in the cold seasons. Sad truth is, they don’t often last long enough to see the food truck friendly months. Los Sartenes opened a month or so ago – in the dead of winter – but we’d wager that they’ll experience a much kinder fate.

First off, this isn’t a low-budget operation.  It’s slick in the best sense of the word. From the tidiness of the kitchen to the conspicuous newness of the trailer to the impressive clarity of the menus (both posted and takeaway), it’s clear that much planning has occurred and that plans have been executed skillfully.

taco trucks columbus

At first glance, it almost spooked us a bit – we don’t often find the unadulterated flavors of Mexico coming from trucks with this level of refinement. Thankfully, the only sense in which our instincts were right were that, in addition to fine Mexican, Los Sartenes is also putting out some fine renditions of Central American fare as well. We started off with a couple of tacos – they passed our lengua test with flying colors – and then moved on to the following:

Traditionally a Salvadoran dish, the pupusa kicks off our exploration of the Central American side of the menu. Essentially a thick corn tortilla pancake filled with any of a variety of ingredients, a good pupusa is a great thing. We tried their cheese version and it was no exception.

salvadorean food

For a truck that defies expectations, their yuca dish epitomizes it. We’ve previously thought of yuca as a Brazilian root vegetable side dish, and something that’s mushy, starchy, and kind of inert. But then again, we’d never seen it served with generous chunks of fried pork belly, curtido, and sauce. They’ve upped the yuca game, folks.

interesting taco truck dishes

We were excited to see empanadas de platanos on the menu; they’re a favorite Salvadoran snack of ours, and hard to come by locally. Los Sartenes’ version didn’t disappoint – the empanada shell consists of a thick layer of mashed sweet plantain filled with a sweet soft cheese, and the whole shebang is fried and dusted with sugar. Don’t let the use of ‘sweet’ and ‘sugar’ deceive, though – while these are certainly dessert-worthy, they’re nonetheless fairly tame on the sweetness spectrum. And, they’re really good.

los sartenes taco truck

The menu is unusually extensive, and the fine folks that alerted us to their location (thanks Jeff & Pablo!) have mentioned a few other dishes that we need to try (the carnitas torta being first among them). Check these guys out, and let us know what you thought!

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El Fogoncito: Wednesday Deal and The Legitimacy of Taco Trucks

Take a look at the ad below. Note the deal on Wednesdays. Buy one taco Al Pastor and get one free. That is a great bargain. And it may seem familiar to some of you. It should be. The owners of Fogoncito are related to the owners of Los Guachos – it is a similar item and the same deal on a different day.

fogo

You may also recall an earlier post, where we make the argument that print ads show the change in attitude towards and the business model of Taco Trucks. The times are still “a’changin”.

What will we start to see more of next?

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Super Taco Nazo (and Taco Nazo Revisited)

super taco nazo

2200 East Dublin Granville Road (Near Lev’s Pawn Shop)
Look for Walgreen’s sign
NE corner of SR 161 and Maple Canyon
Phone: 614.390.6346
Summer Hours Monday to Saturday 10 am to 10 pm
Winter Hours Monday to Saturday 10 am to 8 pm
Phone: 614.390-6346

We first wrote about Taco Nazo in 2009 when this site launched – and we have not had a chance to update the post since then. It is interesting to compare the 2009 listing with many listings we have created since then as our knowledge has grown and so has the sophistication of the taco trucks of Columbus. No Latino Mobile vendor epitomizes that more than Quicho from Taco Nazo…..I mean, Super Taco Nazo.

Quicho took what he learned from years in the Taco Truck trade and incorporated that knowledge into the Super Taco Nazo Trailer. He has a better layout inside that has a lower serving window and less hassles than his original truck. He is working on the original Taco Nazo to make it a true mobile Taco Truck for corporate lunches and catering.

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A brief note about the food, it is among the best in the category of standard Taco Truck fare, easily in our top ten, probably in the top five of at least one of the Three Taco Trucks Amigos. Taco Nazo always wins in consistency. This is a frequent introductory trip for first time Taco Truck adventurers and especially those that are skeptical of mobile Mexican Cuisine. The large quesadilla has never let me down when hoping to have a gringo greenhorn try out a truck and want to come back for more.

english sign

For the Taco Truck Columbus creators our relationship with Quicho and the truck goes long and deep. Although we have not updated the listing for Taco Nazo in years, this vendor has been the most frequent flyer for mentions on the website and in the community as well. Join me for a trip down memory lane.

There are two counterintuitive and unwritten laws for Taco Trucks: 1) Most of the vendors are not mobile 2) Due to a combination of language barriers, cultural differences and etc., many taco truck owners are not the most, shall we say, consistently time conscious. Quicho from Taco Nazo has always been there when we needed him to help spread the word about these mobile kitchens. Quicho is no slouch when it comes to customer appreciation, every Thanksgiving, he hosts a Dia del Pavo (Turkey Day) with free tamales, atole and other goodies for old and new customers alike.

quicho

When we needed a truck to be open at 5:30 am for an early morning television show – Quicho was there and ready to serve. It also connected us with new-found pal and now Foodcast comrade – Johnny DiLoretto. Anytime we needed a vendor for a bike and car Taco Truck tour event – Quicho was ready, willing and able to participate and add to the festivities often with some incredible cakes.

The highlight of the early years was pairing Rick Bayless with Quicho for a special event. We are not sure which one was more thrilled with their meeting but we think it established some major street cred for Taco Trucks in our community. An article by Columbus Alive allowed us to do a tour of several Taco Trucks, including Taco Nazo and cemented a connection with G.A. Benton and photographer Jodi Miller.

All work and no play makes the Taco Truck website a dull read, so when Taco Drew conjured up a David vs. Goliath Taco Truck vs. Taco Bell Challenge – Quicho was ready for the battle. We don’t have to tell you who won that one.

We have observed, in many of our community connections that most successful businesses make a habit of giving back to the community they serve. Quicho continues to do so in his support of the Latino community as well as youth soccer leagues. Quicho is also one of the first go to with mainstream advertising for his business. On an end note (not final note, because Taco Nazo will continue to be on our blogs and in our tweets as the business keeps growing) it has been interesting to watch Quicho share his space and his wisdom with a new Indonesian mobile food vendor in the lot he has occupied since he started. Quicho has embraced the diversity of a new competitor as a collaborator and from the perspective of a peer and coach instead of with fear and distrust that he encountered when he started his kitchen on wheels years ago.

super taco nazo guy

Taco Nazo on Urbanspoon

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Columbus Taco Trucks: You’ve come a long way Bambina!

Taco Trucks crossed the decade mark in the Capital City last year. While still not quite mainstream, the acceptance of these kitchens on wheels has come a long way. While the non-taco truck mobile food scene has exploded since 2010, the number of taco trucks in Columbus has remained about the same, in the 35-40 range. However, the community has not stagnated. Taco Nazo, is now Super Taco Nazo as a trailer. The original Taco Nazo is being prepared to be a true mobile food vendor for roving lunches and catering around town starting in the spring. Juniors and El Mantinal Latino had added extra trucks for catering. The two spin-off brick and mortar restaurants from taco trucks (Super Torta and Los Gauchos) are still doing well. The Taco Truck has not been forgotten, not by any means.

This year something happened under the radar that deserves mention. Again, while still not embraced by Joe Average in Columbus, Taco Trucks have gone mainstream in one area….advertising. See the examples below.

nazo ad

From Crave Winter 2012 issue


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a Valu-Pak coupon…one seen over several months in Clintonville.

Taco Trucks are putting money into the local economy via mainstream advertising…that is assimilation as American as it gets.

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