“The top 30 best tacos in Western Washington,” says the Seattle Times; “Not so fast,” says I.
It was a laudable undertaking, eating five hundred tacos in the name of science, but we have quibbles with the journalist’s picks for the best. Therefore, putting matters into our own hands, we kick off Tour de Taco, a series profiling stops on any self-respecting taco crawl. Our first three entries are of the classic variety but expect nontraditional picks as we go. We aren’t of the orthodox persuasion around these parts.
So, in celebration of the upcoming Cinco de Mayo, we present to you:
This isn’t so much me pitting these two Rainier Ave trucks against each other, as that is what the Times (allegedly inadvertently) did. Both spots are located in gas-station parking lots a few blocks apart, with only Potrillos hitting the paper’s top thirty. Tehuacan being left off is something I will (some may say generously) chalk down as an unfortunate oversight.
The two share many similarities, with an emphasis on properly prepared meat. You’ll find well-charred, tender carne asada at either truck alongside juicy yet not soggy carnitas. Which one is the better vendor comes down to subjective preferences—Los Potrillos’ smaller pieces of carnitas may appeal to some. Yet, Tehuacan’s carne asada is just a smidgen more charred.
We’re in the weeds as far as the details go. Both trucks serve high-quality classic tacos, simple in composition, with only onion and cilantro added to the meat. Getting that right is easier said than done—chewy, overcooked meat is common—and so, Potrillos and Tehuacan make a natural twofer on any crawl.
Los Potrillos: 6815 Rainier Ave S
Tehuacan: 7219 Rainier Ave S
This local chain serves up classic tacos with just a smattering of finesse. Its namesake chorizo taco comes topped not only with cheese and guacamole but also a grilled pineapple. It’s not a significant addition, but I appreciate the ingenuity, and the tangy fruit pairs well with the spicy meat.
Too, Chuckís’ use of technology is what a curmudgeon’s dream is made of. You can place your order on counter-mounted iPads without having to talk to anyone—the order will be served at your table. And, bonus points for the “babyBurritos”—taco-sized burritos. That’s proper gumption.
Over its decade-plus existence, Chukís has built up enough of a following to earn a Wikipedia entry, proving it has its share of cultural relevance. Enough so that, paired with its classic-yet-creative dishes, it should be a given stop for any taco crawl.
Find all of Chukís’ locations on their website.
Meanwhile, the New Yorker has done a deep dive into the Bell’s “Innovation Kitchen,” where we learn the head chef is dubbed the Taco Whisperer and that half of the Doritos Locos Taco’s hundred-and-seventy calories are from fat: “the ideal ratio for a pleasing mouthfeel.” Well, there we go! Check out the article for more—it’s an educational and entertaining read. Pure edutainment.