Before an event I always worry about how it will turn out. I worry about whether enough people will come, or too many people and I worry about the weather and traffic and toilets. I am usually told that things will work out fine, and in the case of the Night of 1000 tacos they did. Actually better than fine. It was a wonderful event. We raised $200 for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, we converted some new people to the pleasures of taco trucks, we had a fun bike ride and made some new friends. Some of the riders came all the way from Wheeling!
We assembled at Studio 35, waited for stragglers and with our motley crew of 30+ cyclists, 2 scooters and the red caboose, we headed north for the first taco truck. Our first stop was at Taquikin on Morse Road.
Taquikin had brought their ‘A’ game for the event and had four people working in the kitchen. They turned around orders quickly and efficiently and the only thing that took time was for people to choose from the array of offerings. I kicked off the evening with a couple of tacos and some horchata. The carnitas taco was fantastic – really tender and juicy. My favorite interaction at Taquikin was talking to the young son of the owners.
Him: “Are you guys doing a race or something?’
Me: “No, we are just riding bikes to different trucks and eating tacos”
Him: “That sounds like fun”
He was right, of course. Taquikin were really welcoming and warmly thanked us for coming. The whole crew piled out of the truck to wave us off into the night. We headed north on Cleveland to stop number 2: Taqueria Jalisco.
I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Taqueria Jalisco as it was the first truck we visited when we started researching taco trucks. Jalisco is run by brothers Jorge and Oscar and they have always been great to us, even when we once accidentally forgot to pay before leaving. Everyone thought someone else had paid and we were a couple of miles away before we realized.
The Jalisco crew were sporting new-that-day polo shirts for the occasion and you could tell they were enjoying the event. I went for a carnitas sopita, a thick corn base topped with meat, sour cream, lettuce and cheese and it was really satisfying. I could have easily eaten another if there weren’t two more trucks on the route. Once the taco peloton was fed and watered we headed north again, this time on residential streets and past a high school football game. Our destination was Taco Nazo on 161.
The other trucks had impressed us with their speed and service, but Taco Nazo welcomed us like celebrities with a special poster, balloons and flags and insisted on a group photo before we left.
As if that wasn’t enough, there were free drinks, special prices and two enormous cakes – one with a bicycle on top and the other with a motorbike. The motorbike even revved when you pressed down on it.
Owner Quicho had done us proud and we were so touched at the effort they had made to make our visit so special.
I ordered a campechano taco (a mix of pork and beef )- a speciality of Taco Naco and had a generous slice of cake. Most people were getting pretty full by this stage and I definitely heard mumblings of ‘we really have another truck?’ Luckily Taco Nazo is next to a large Walgreens and so those who needed a pit stop were able to use the bathrooms there. Thank goodness for late night drugstores! Heading north again we made our way to the last truck, greeted on route by cheers from a neighborhood cook-out of ‘Go, Green’.
Our fourth and final stop was at Don Pedro’s on Cleveland Ave. Taco Nazo had raised the bar so that we almost expected a Mariachi Band at the last stop. Some of the group disappeared into the neighboring Mr Big’s Garden Inn for tequila shots but one of our group, Amber appeared inside the truck and was using her spanish skills to help translate orders. Service was a little slower at the other trucks, but some people were too full to eat any more. I found room for a pambazo, which is a speciality of Don Pedro’s. It is a hot sandwich filled with meat and potatoes and the bread is dipped into a salsa and then grilled. Really tasty. I also had some fresh mango agua fresca (their drink servings are huge). Well fueled by our Mexican food overload we pedalled back to Studio 35. Too late for the movie, but I don’t think anyone minded.
The atmosphere on the ride was great, not just from the warm welcome we received from the trucks, but also the camaraderie of the riders, looking out for each other and waiting when anyone got left at a light. We are going to change the route a little for the next ride to make sure that we can make it back in plenty of time for the 3 Amigos and maybe have the cyclists only go to 3 trucks. It would still be plenty of food.
Thanks to Ray for the idea, Ray, Jim and Andy for all the help with logistics and planning, everyone who donated services and time to make the ride possible and of course everyone who came and rode and ate and donated money to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Stay tuned for details of the Night of 1001 Tacos & showing of 3 Amigos on October 9th.