My father is Mexican and I grew up traveling extensively throughout the country, so I'm pretty demanding when it comes to that cuisine. I've eaten it from the furthest corners of Homestead to the most gleaming tables of South Beach nouveau-Mexican eateries, all in search of anything that will take me as far away as possible from the towering sour cream-cheddar cheese-deep-fried-flour tortilla with a fake name like "chalupa"-madness that passes as Mexican cuisine in Miami.
I think I finally found my spot.
I had heard about the Orale Taqueria Mexicana food truck for a while, but could never track it down. Then a friend told me it is usually parked in front of a school near Douglas Park in Coral Gables on weekends. But when I drove by on a Saturday, there was no sign of it. I tracked down wner and chef Francisco Perez, who nformed me that because of parking permit issues he had been searching for other locations. This weekend, it was the Tropicana Flea, a raggedy market in Allapattah where you can find everything from used auto parts to bootleg Honduran music. No telling how long it will be there, though. It's advisable to call the truck before embarking on a wild goose chase.
The seating area consists of a makeshift canopy and mismatched plastic chairs behind a white board menu. It is nothing fancy. But the cooking area inside of the trailer is remarkably clean. Perez,a native of Oaxaca, dons plastic gloves while preparing different meats, and religiously wipes the counters down.
The tacos -- prepared in the authentic manner of simple marinated meat in small manteca-brushed corn tortillas with no other toppings -- teleported me to the streets of central Mexico. The carnitas taco ($2) consisted of perfectly braised pulled pork that was tender and juicy. The chorizo taco ($2), made up of finely chopped Spanish chorizo, had a just-right bite of spice. The least exciting option was the taco al pastor ($2). Usually, it's prepared with meat sliced from a gyro-like skewer of pork that is topped with a pineapple dripping juices onto the meat. Perez's mix of grilled pineapple chunks and pork offered a similar sweet and salty tang, but wasn't quite as impressive as the dish prepared in the traditional manner. I didn;t try the tripe, tongue, or cheek tacos ($2.50 each), but Perez swears customers always wrinkle their noses only to fall in love at first bite, which I almost believe after my own heavenly experience with the carnitas and chorizo.Garnishes such as pico de gallo, chopped cilantro and onion, and lime wedges were available in a bin on the side of the truck. There were three homemade hot sauces -- a red salsa, a green salsa, and a scorching Habanero pepper sauce that I made the mistake of dousing all over my first taco.
The menu listed horchata, a cinnamon-infused rice milk drink, but I was informed there was none available on that day. Instead, I opted for a tamarind jarrito ($1.50), a popular Mexican soft drink.
I was bummed because I discovered, walking back to the parking lot, that there is another Orale Taqueria Mexicana truck that parks on the other side of the flea market and serves additional food items like pozole and menudo. It had a much nicer get-up with tables covered in indigenous woven tapestries. But no matter, I'll be back.