Tag Archives: empanadas

Los Sartenes

taco trucks columbus

901 S. James Road
614.439.5308
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@lossartenes 

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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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Las Brisas

(Last seen at this location, currently missing)
2991 Sullivant Ave (corner of Sullivant and Binns, in Alex Market parking lot)

614.930.8671

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The days are getting shorter, the kids are trudging back to school, OSU football’s in full swing – fall is in the air in central Ohio.

And, we’ve just stumbled upon a new taco truck.  Specializing in seafood.

When we asked the folks at Las Brisas how long they’ve been opened, the response was ’4 days’.  This served to a) reinforce our desire to believe that no truck in Columbus goes unnoticed by us for long, and b) hope they’ll be able to weather the seasons to come and make it through to prime ceviche slinging weather.  It’s nice to see a taco truck alternative to Mi Chula’s seafood offering, and from what we’ve seen Las Brisas should be able to hold their own in this niche of two.

The empanadas were tasty – light, flaky, expertly fried pockets enveloping a generous portion of diced shrimp and cheese filling.  Good on their own, and delicious when dipped into the creamy red sauce that accompany them.

We also tried the tostadas mixtas, which is a fried tortilla topped with a mixed ceviche comprised of shrimp, fish, and octopus.  Light and refreshing – perfect as a… umm… quick cool snack on a blazing summer afternoon.

Las Brisas has a somewhat confusing mishmash of menus taped up around their service window with hot dogs, hamburgers and steak tacos in addition to their seafood specialities.  We’ll be back to try out some of the other items, and we’d love to hear from you in the comments if you get the chance to explore their selection as well.

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El Manantial Latino

exotic

or 14-0 Express on Hudson between Indianola and Summit.

As of September 2012, 24 hrs per day 7 days a week (mostly)

614.515.3929

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Colombia represents!  El Manantial Latino is our second truck with food (and owners) from that part of the world in as many days, and we’ve found that they make a compelling case for occasionally straying from the city’s many mobile Mexican offerings.

Upon ordering, we were heartened to see the cook hand-forming our empanadas from scratch.  ‘Fresh’ is the word here, and we were told that they hoped to reflect that attribute in their name (Manantial means ‘waterfall’).

The empanadas were crispy and, for having just emerged from the fryer, remarkably light and not too oily.  We tried the beef and cheese options, and while both fillings were pleasing enough, neither had quite the satisfying complexity of flavors found in the empanadas from 8th Taste.  Perhaps the taste bud abuse I endured from the screaming hot green sauce that Manantial’s empanadas are served with contributed to that impression?

Go ahead, call me a wimp, I can take it.

(Edit – my Manantial dining partner chimes in, emailing: “The sauce wasn’t that hot, I ate all of it while you weren’t looking!” What evah. )

The arepas (above), also formed and cooked as we watched, were even more popular – I suspect that’s at least partly because they hit TTC’s collective soft spot for carmelized cheese.  Served with an especially appealing style of chorizo slices, our order disappeared quickly.

Satisfying though the above were, we can’t help but feel as though we missed out – El Manantial offers a wide range of rotating special items that, if we understood correctly, are only served on Saturday and Sunday.  Luckily, they send out email updates to provide customers with the latest info.  Personally, I’m keeping an eye out for the next appearance of their Colombian tamales.

If you’d like them to add you to their list you can email them at:

elmanantiallatino (at) hotmail (dot) com. They also have a facebook page.

A parting thought – one of the true pleasures of taco truckin’ is the opportunity to, unlike in most restaurants, routinely interact with the people who own the establishment and prepare your food.  Occasionally the language barrier may pose some difficulties to the spanish deficient, but respect for the customers and pride in the food are easily communicated even without words.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that El Manantial Latino’s kind operators exemplify these qualities in spades

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