2600 Morse Rd, Columbus, OH 43231
Driving down Morse Road, we came across a taco truck we hadn’t seen before. We stopped, and looked over the menu, which was small but listed a few things we hadn’t seen before. Most of what we were interested in wasn’t available, but a whole host of other unlisted items were.
In discussing the menu with the woman in the window, I cobbled together a few words of high school Spanish. See seemed amused – maybe even impressed? – by this, which of course left me utterly charmed by her. Her husband, I assume, sensed that I didn’t understand a particular unlisted taco option, called picadillo, and said, ‘one moment, you try’. He turned around, worked a ball of masa between his hands, and pressed a fresh tortilla to get it started.
While I awaited this taste, a small spry woman strode up and announced that if we wanted to order, we needed to ring the bell. I hadn’t noticed it, but yes, there was in fact a sizable bell somewhat reminiscent of the liberty bell just sitting there on the counter. I told her that we had ordered, which was sort of true, and that she could go ahead. She asserted that everything was good here, and when asked what she orders she said chicken tacos this time, quesadillas others. She said that she’s from Vietnam but that she loves Mexican food. She didn’t say that this was her taco truck, the one she relies on and feels fiercely loyal to, the one where she feels like she knows the owners better than they think she does. She didn’t have to.
The picadillo taco arrived – ground beef, potatoes, carrots, cilantro, onion. A little spicy heat. It’s free, just try, they said. We did. Delicious. We ordered two more of them, plus one asada, one lengua, and three vegetable options – squash blossom, huitlacoche, and nopal. They had Squirt, which is rare and nostalgia inducing, so two Squirts, too.
With her takeout order secured, the Vietnamese woman said ‘good talking to you’ and walked with her food into the beauty supply store next door.
The tacos arrived neatly arranged on colorful plastic plates. When it’s 76 degrees and sunny and the taco truck provides street side chairs and tables, you sit there and you eat. As a known quantity to ravenous appetites, the picadillos disappeared first.
A trio of extravagantly hued robes floated by, inhabited by Somali women with soft expressions and purposeful gaits.
The asada and lengua were both solid examples of their kind, while the huitlacoche and nopal were only as good as something that comes from a can shipped from far away can be.
The squash blossom taco was best, and seemed perfectly in keeping with the experience – bright, eclectic, unusual but accessible. Squash blossoms, yes, but among what amounted to a grilled succotash medley. It may not taste as good to you as it did to me at that precise moment, but it’ll still be very good.
As we ate, customers lined up. Mexicans, construction workers, Mexican construction workers, guys with a truck whose contents led me to believe they were probably metal pickers. The woman in the window told the last person in line that it’d be a while before they could get to his order. Noting how quickly they’d become swamped, I smiled in sympathy. Seeing this, she looked at me with an expression of mock insanity and shouted, ‘beezy, beezy, beezy!’
As was the traffic on Morse Road, at least if sitting in lunchtime gridlock is busy. It’s an oft-overlooked section of the corridor for many, but it is alive.