FATTQ – Frequently Asked Taco Truck Questions:
Since the inception of Taco Trucks Columbus, we noticed recurring questions as posted comments on the site, when we speak to taco touristas at events and during interviews with the media. To save readers the hassle of searching through the comments for answers, the Taco Truck Columbus Team has compiled answers to our Frequently Asked Questions. If you don’t see the answer you are looking for – please post your question on this page. If you have a general question or comment about Taco Trucks in Columbus – please post here as well.
Are Taco Trucks Vegetarian Friendly?
Short Answer: No
Long Answer: It depends on the truck, sometimes the day and what your level of vegetarianism is. There are over 30 taco trucks representing different countries, regions and cooking styles. A few trucks are somewhat vegetarian friendly (we mention so in our posts when possible). You can get a quesadilla at almost all of the trucks. However, due to the small amount of cooking space in a truck it is unlikely the tortilla and cheese did not come into contact with some meat tinged grease. One can order a quesadilla anywhere so that is not the point of going to a Taco Truck. Rice and beans is sometimes an option – however, the beans are usually cooked with lard or pork. Taco Trucks often represent the comfort food of the place the owners are from. Let’s face it, there just is not a lot of vegetarian comfort food.
Your better bets are: The 8th Taste: Apreas with cheese and maybe empanadas; El Manantial Latino: empanadas; Los Potosinos: will make some vegetarian options on request; Junior’s, being in Victorian Village, often gets requests for meat-free food and offers vegetarians burritos (and perhaps more).
I can not find the ___(fill in the blank)__ Taco Truck or can’t tell if it is open.
Taco Trucks are mobile. Some close up shop in the evening and drive home for the night. Some move to a new location without telling us (Juniors has the record for the most moves in one week). Some disappear, La Vacana – donde esta? Some change the day they are closed on a whim. One truck is weekends only and another opens at 4 PM. And sometimes the owner may be sick, has a family emergency, or just opts to close the doors for a day. If you speak Spanish – call ahead for hours and days of operation. Many trucks close for the winter or change their hours depending on the temperature of the day. We keep information as up to date as possible however there are more Taco Trucks than Taco Trucks Team members so the trucks have the edge. We do have a category called Ghost Trucks for Taco Trucks that have gone on extended hiatus. We also have a category for Closed trucks that care gone and never coming back. When possible we make updates on each truck’s post as well as the List of Taco Trucks and the Taco Truck Map.
If you have updated Taco Truck information to share – please e-mail the Taco Trucks Columbus Caliente-line: Taco Trucks Columbus
Are Taco Trucks safe and clean?
Taco Trucks are inspected by the Columbus Board of Health. Each truck should display a green Columbus Health Department Color Coded Inspection Sign with the date of the last inspection. Inspections occur at least once per year, just like any restaurant or food supplier. Taco Truck owners must have a peddlers license as well.
A yellow health department tag means the truck has been warned about a health code issue and is on probation while they implement recommended changes – so menu items may be limited. A red sticker indicates a major health code violation and the business is closed.
That being said, mobile food vendors, including taco trucks, can get a bad rap. Hot dog carts and hamburger stands fought these same stereotypes in the 20th century as they evolved into American icons. How many restaurant kitchens have you seen? This writer has seen some very scary kitchens behind closed doors. Taco trucks are open kitchens – customers can see every step in the preparation process for start to serving time. If you are wary of a truck – order one taco – watch how it is prepared. If something gives you the creeps – pay your $1.25, cut your losses and move on to the next truck. The owner of the truck is often the one cooking your food. He or she depends on repeat business to stay in business and cleanliness is the key to happy customers and health inspectors. The inspectors make regular spot checks on taco trucks just as they do for restaurants, grocery stores, fair food stands and elsewhere. So the answer is: taco trucks are as clean as any other food you eat and in this case – at least you can see it before you eat it. We think that is a very good thing.
I want to rent a Taco Truck for a party!
We know of one person who rented a truck but it showed up two hours late (however the food was great). In another instance, the person arranging the truck was text messaged at 1am the night before the event and told the truck could not come. In our experience, your best bet is to check with Quicho at Taco Nazo we know from experience that Taco Nazo can bake a tasty cake and cater with short notice. In April of 2010, Taco Nazo catered a book signing by Rick Bayless at North Market. Taco Nazo was a hit with Rick, so it may be a hit for you too. Junior’s Tacos (Carlos) has catered some events and has a second truck just for that purpose. Loyal Taco Truck Columbus fan has reported Rincon Latino did a great job for a private party.
Who has Fish Tacos?
(April 2010) Some of trucks such as Las Delicas II have seafood dishes. However currently, we know of no trucks that do Baja style fish tacos.
Do I need to speak Spanish to order at a Taco Truck?
The level of English proficiency varies by the day and by the truck. We have been able to order at each truck using just English – but limited Spanish skills are helpful to better explore menus and build rapport with the truck owners and employees. We have a list of common phrases on this site – print them out and take them with you.
Do Taco Trucks take credit cards or checks?
No. Take cash, small bills if you can.
(There is one exception – Taqueria Davanne started taking credit cards in early 2010 but we do not know how smooth the process is. There is a ATM near that truck as a back up).
I am confused by a term used in Taco Trucks Columbus.
……You say pupusa; they say popusa; and I say something else.
The taco trucks in Columbus come from many different regions in Mexico as well as El Salvador, The Dominican Republic, Columbia and elsewhere. Just as is the case for the United States (East Coast vs. Southern English, Ya All), Australia, and the United Kingdom, not all words and terms are created equal or are equivalent. We have tried to give the Hungry Woolf the boot many times – but in turn she just locks us in the trunk until we “agree” to order offal on the next 10 tacos. Vive la difference amigos.
We use the terms that are listed on the taco trucks menus in Columbus and write based on the owners descriptions as well as our interviews with them. A baffled Taco Trucks Columbus visitor was offput by some terminology we listed. The discourse below is an example of the culinary terminology challenges we all face.
August 5, 2009
buche is not stomach, but the throat part.
pupusa’s are never referred to as “POPUSA” perhaps in Cbus but not in El Salvador or other areas with a large salvadorean population. Cabeza tacos also includes some brains of the cow
Taco Drew replied:
Buche – depends on who you’re talking to. Stomach, throat muscle, and apparently even the craw of the cow are all called buche, there seems to be a lot of regional variation. The operators of the trucks we’ve talked to around here translate it as stomach when explaining it to us. From what we’ve read, this is typical in LA as well.
Our experiences with and writings about pupusas are solely related to Columbus area vendors (and for readers of this Columbus area blog), so if someone of Salvadorean background calls them ‘popusas’ here, who are we to judge? Interestingly, when you google ‘popusa’ there are plenty of places where that spelling comes up on Spanish language web pages. It is perhaps not the dominant spelling, but never say never, eh?
Regarding cabeza – I have no doubt that the preparation you describe is a variation that exists, but I don’t believe that that’s necessarily the only preparation.
With that said, your post does make a useful point. The definitions we’ve provided should be regarded as a general primer/guide and not as definitive. We generally encourage people to try new things first and ask about them later, but if you need to know exactly what you’re getting, you’ll only know for sure if you ask the people preparing the food.
How do you make a living doing this web site?
This site is not a business. Taco Trucks of Columbus is a labor of love, not profit. We sell T-shirts due to requests from our readers and receive a small amount for each sale which is enough to buy two tacos per month.