Warm, soft, juicy gorditas.
Mexican music plays on a boombox nearby.
Tortillas from masa are first rolled in hand, then patted smooth before being placed on the flat top. Chicken sings and sizzles on a grill as balls of masa that will later grow into enchiladas are squashed in a tortilla press.
Nestled in an unassuming midtown front yard and parking lot, El Taco Rico is certainly not easy to stumble upon. Unlikely to be seen at Tucson food truck roundups, this little food truck lives permanently just off of Roger Road west of Oracle.
If you peer into the small window of El Taco Rico, you will be greeted with owner Angelina Arreola’s bright, shining smile.
We order gorditas de chicharrón, un plato de enchiladas de pollo, a vegetarian plate with beans, rice and avocado-topped salad, and carne asada tacos.
Angelina serves food characteristic of her native Guanajuato, a state just northwest of Mexico City, as well as northern Mexican food characteristic of Sonora. We arrived prior to the lunch rush and had a few minutes to chat with Angelina. She recounted her move to Chicago with her husband and dreams of cooking her own food in a restaurant, but with little means to do so. She spent years brainstorming with her brothers and sisters before moving to Tucson and purchasing a truck. Along with raising four children, Angelina has been serving affordable, delicious Mexican food out of El Taco Rico now for two years.
This is not just any taco truck. What makes this truck unique is the warm welcome you receive and the authentic straight-out-of-your-abuelita’s kitchen feel. On top of that, El Taco Rico’s namesake does not fib. You will be served fresh, fast, delicious Mexican food made to order. Everyday menu items include chalupas, tacos, tortas, burros, caramelos, hot dogs, tacos dorados, and quesadillas. Each dish is artfully plated with a drizzle of sour cream, lime halves, or sliced avocados. Unique to El Taco Rico are pambazos, sandwiches dunked in guajillo chili salsa before being fried and filled with potatoes and chorizo.
Beware of the spicy salsa served in generous portions. While it appears creamy and smooth, it is laced with spicy habaneros/peppers that will kill. I unassumingly poured my salsa on rice, and a cough and watery eyes followed. I saw Angelina hastily spooning more salsa and I was met with a milder variety.
The gorditas turned out to be our favorite dish. A thick tortilla of fresh masa is cooked, then sliced and stuffed with the filling of your choice. The pork meat, chicharrón, was crispy yet juicy and complemented by a tortilla still moist on the inside.
Specials vary by day. If you stop by on a weekend, you could land warm and hearty pozole or menudo, both Mexican stews. Make sure to inquire about what is available that day, as not everything Angelina can craft is listed on the menu.
El Taco Rico is located at 652 W. Roger Rd. Tucson, AZ 85705. Closed on Mondays. Cash only.