Taco trucks serve up some of the best tacos we've had, and it's always a thrill to pull up to a random truck and scope their menu to see what they have that the last truck didn't have.
Phoenix has a seemingly endless supply to choose from for those late-night cravings for fresh Mexican food. We took on two trucks in the Valley, Tacos Sahuayo and Tacos Chava, to compare which one serves up the best food.
In This Corner: Tacos Sahuayo
The Setting: After 8 p.m. anything east of 24th Street on McDowell is pretty dead since a good stretch of the street is filled with mechanic shops. But just before you hit 32nd Street your eyes will be drawn to the lights brightening up the seating area under the canopy of Tacos Sahuayo, a family-run truck located in the parking lot of Standard Restaurant Supply. They serve tacos, tortas, quesadillas, burritos and tostadas with you choice of asada, al pastor, chorizo, chicken, cabeza (head), and tripas (intestine).
The Good: We ordered three tacos: one al pastor, one asada and one chicken, as well as one chicken torta. The tacos came with fresh onion and cilantro, and they were great with the red salsa that had a roasted taste to it. The torta came with beans, lettuce, tomato and cotija cheese. It was hard to put the torta down because the meat and beans tasted so well, and the bread was so soft.
The Bad: Dry meat filled our tacos. The three meats tasted as if the cooks reheated leftovers and tried to hide it underneath the cilantro and onion. The only way to stomach it all was by filling the tacos with the salsa and squeezing a couple wedges of lime on them.
In The Other Corner: Tacos Chava
The Setting: Eating at Tacos Chava is more like eating at an outdoor restaurant than a taco truck. The large canopy covers just over a dozen tables that are always filled with families, and a large TV is hung in one corner with the channel set to Univision. Seat yourself and the servers will come to your table and take your order. Tacos Chava sells tacos and quesadillas, with your choice of asada, al pastor, tripas and cabeza. Their specials include chupacabra, which is a quesadilla made with two tortillas instead of one, making it bigger; they also serve vampiros, reminiscent of tostadas, but instead Monterey Jack cheese serves as the base, then the carne asada is piled on, with chopped lettuce and dreamy salsa. Horchata and Mexican sodas are also available.
The Good: Since they didn't have chicken tacos, we stuck with al pastor and asada tacos, a vampiro and a quesadilla in place of a torta. Without question, Tacos Chava serves up some of the best al pastor meat we've had. They make it with chorizo, adding a spicy, greasy goodness to the meat. The asada wasn't too chewy, and both meats were juicy. Both tacos were stuffed with considerably more meat than Tacos Sahuayo.
Switching things around and putting the cheese on the bottom is what makes vampiros so good, and Tacos Chava hit the note perfectly.
Let's not forget the horchata. A perfect of balance of milk and cinnamon filled our cup and didn't last long. The horchata definitely was not made from a mix.
The Bad: If you're going to order a quesadilla, order the chupacabra, because the regular quesadilla is just like the tacos, and comes with more meat than cheese. With their menu options, we expected the salsa to be richer in flavor, but it fell flat. Also, don't be in any rush to leave because it took us over 10 minutes to wait for our server to calculate our bill and bring us our change.
The Winner: Tacos Sahuayo puts together a mouth-watering torta, but the taco meat was just too dry. For that, Tacos Chava wins this battle of the taco trucks with their selection, and we couldn't get over the al pastor meat with chorizo.