Taco Summer

Taco Summer: Make Like a Cop and Order the "Special" at the Oldest Taco Truck in Peoria

A taco cavalcade at a long-running Peoria taco truck.
A taco cavalcade at a long-running Peoria taco truck. Patricia Escarcega
In the hunt for the latest trendy restaurants, our spotlight often misses neighborhoods that are home to some of the Valley's best kitchens — including those making metro Phoenix's best tacos. Over the next several weeks, we'll be guiding you toward the Valley's tastiest tacos, and the taquerias that serve them. Welcome to Taco Summer.

14: Waldo's Tacos

Taqueria: Waldo's Tacos
Open Since: 2005
Style: Mexico City-inspired tacos

Waldo's Tacos is one of the oldest food trucks in the northwest Valley, a pioneering lonchera that has been a roadside fixture of the area around Grand Avenue and 91st Avenue in Peoria for more than a decade.

The family-run food truck, which is open Tuesday through Saturday, has been parked in a small, strip mall parking lot since 2005; before that, it operated as a food stand around the corner.

Since then, Waldo's Tacos, a well-lit spot with plenty of picnic seating, has evolved into a gathering spot for a pretty broad repertoire of neighborhood clientele. On any given evening, you're likely to observe tired-looking parents wrangling preschoolers for dinner; local paramedic personnel, and City of Peoria policemen dining over paper plates — along with a random assortment of hungry taco lovers from around the city.

click to enlarge Waldo's Tacos is a long-running Peoria food truck that attracts everyone from families to local law enforcement personnel. - PATRICIA ESCARCEGA
Waldo's Tacos is a long-running Peoria food truck that attracts everyone from families to local law enforcement personnel.
Patricia Escarcega

Part of what makes Waldo's Tacos so appealing is its extensive selection of taco meats, a menu replete with the standards (carne asada, al pastor), along with harder-to-find options like suadero de res, a somewhat esoteric beef cut that's closely associated with Mexico City-style tacos.

Some of the highlights of eating at Waldo's include the truck's take on tripas, intestines that are delightfully crispy and well-seasoned, lengua tacos that are lush and succulent, and the cabeza tacos, which are nicely braised, extra-rich, and drippy.

If you're looking for condiments beyond the requisite duo of cilantro and diced white onions, ask about the "Special" taco, otherwise known as el especial. The taco was created specifically for the steady cadre of law enforcement professionals who stop in nightly for a taco fix. You don't have to be in uniform to request it, though. What makes the taco "special" is the addition of cheese, beans, and avocado; simple ingredients that imbue each taco with a whole new tier of melty, savory flavor.

No matter which taco you order, eating at Waldo's Tacos is satisfying in more ways than one. You'll come mainly for the tacos, generously apportioned with meat, and so economical that you can eat like royalty, even with only a few crumpled dollar bills floating around in your pocket. But you may also want to come just for the friendly people-watching, and to enjoy the sense of community that this long-running taco truck has built over the years.

click to enlarge The lengua tacos at Waldo's Tacos in Peoria. - PATRICIA ESCARCEGA
The lengua tacos at Waldo's Tacos in Peoria.
Patricia Escarcega
Our Taco Summer picks so far:

50. Taqueria Don Beto
49. Kiss Pollos Estilo Sinaloa
48. Tacos Tijuana
47. El Burrito Grande
46. El Horseshoe Restaurant
45. Tacos Sahuaro
44. El Pollo Correteado
43. Adrian's
42. La Fiesta
41. Taqueria Lucy
40. Tortas Ahogadas George
39. Taqueria El Chino
38. Joe's Tacos
37. Taqueria El Gallo de Lagos
36. Tacos Huicho
35. Puffy Taco Shack
34. Ni De Aqui Ne De Alla
33. Mr. Mesquite
32. Senor Ozzy's
31. Tacos Jalisco
30. Ta'Carbon
29. Taqueria Los Yaquis
28: Helio Basin Brewing
27: Sonora Taco Shop
26: Mercado Y Carniceria Cuernavaca
25. Restaurant Atoyac Estilo Oaxaca
24. Paquime Street Food
23. The Rez
22. Asadero Toro
21. La Frontera 1
20. Taquería Yaqui
19. Presidio Cocina Mexicana
18. Mucha Lucha Taco Shop
17. Casa Reynoso
16. Backyard Taco
15. Taquitos Jalisco

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Patricia Escárcega was Phoenix New Times' food critic.