The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, June 17, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

In this week’s Dive, we take a look at one of the finest dining traditions in the area — taco trucks. While these providers of meals on four wheels aren’t typically revered with the same respect as restaurants, we thought it was high time these paragons of cheap and tasty tortilla- wrapped fare received their due. Staff writers Rachel Arnett, Joe Faile and Jonathan Pattishall sampled various fare from Carrboro’s Captain Poncho’s, Taqueria Jalisco and Costa Azul. As patron Ryan Mills put it, “I want to spend my whole paycheck here, but I can’t because it’s so cheap.” As impoverished and constantly hungry college students, we couldn’t have said it any better ourselves.

Captain Poncho’s

4 out of 5 stars
The chicharrón taco is soft, fleshy fried pork skin and a curious shade of radioac- tive orange to boot, but it’s also fresh and defied all my expectations for non-stomach destroying tastiness. I give it two and a half thumbs up. Just don’t forget to smother it, and everything else at this truck, in their delicious salsa verde. — JP

4 of 5 stars
The best of my three tacos, the filling in Poncho’s chorizo taco was the perfect match for the fresh cilantro and onion topping. The combo delivers the right amount of flavor with a spicy kick. Not only was the filling best balanced by the topping, but the tortilla had the best consistency — not too thick and not too thin. — RA

4 of 5 stars
The al pastor taco is a mixture of meat, pineapple and chile accompanied by veg- gies inside a handmade tortilla. The tradi- tional meat flavor and tangy fruit provide for a delicious contrast of flavors that isn’t too spicy, a great reason to add homemade salsas. For the price, it’s no investment, but it’s more of a snack than a meal. — JF

Catch Captain Poncho’s at: 100 S. Merritt Mill Rd. (near Jiffy Lube), Carrboro

Taqueria de Jalisco

2 of 5 stars
The borrego taco is lamb with veggies, wrapped in a tortilla. The tortilla provides a vortex for the juicy-greasy goodness that flows after the first bite. This one definitely needs some spices — otherwise it tastes like something from Lenoir Dining Hall. Despite its cheap price, the money is better spent to help pay late night cab fare. — JF

2 of 5 stars
While it was not the most unusual filling on the menus, the lengua (cow tongue) taco was better than it sounds, but ultimately the cilantro-onion topping overpowered the mild flavor of the lengua. However, a driz- zling of salsa verde provided another layer of texture to the simple style of preparation used for the lengua. — RA

3 of 5 stars
I was suspicious of Jalisco for not listing its prices, and sated my suspicions by trying two tacos instead of one. The tripe taco was fatty, rubbery and a bit nauseating, but also full of workingman’s flavor. The azada taco was a nice follow-up from a part of the cow that doesn’t carry fecal matter. It was moister and more chewable than the first. — JP

Catch Taqueria de Jalisco at: E. Main St. (near Cat’s Cradle), Carrboro

Costa Azul

3 of 5 stars
The pork filling taco had more potential than was realized. Similar to the lengua, the bland meat relied too heavily on the fresh accoutrement of cilantro and onion. Not the cream of the proverbial taco, but enjoy- able. If anything, a bit of salsa verde and the atmosphere surrounding the trucks makes each cheap, filling taco worth a try. —RA

4 of 5 stars
The cashier at Azul laughed at my gringo- ness when I asked if I was supposed to eat the husk on my chicken tamale. That was ok, because I was so absorbed in the steamy cornmeal and chicken that I was impervi- ous to her taunts. The salsa verde inside was sharp, and at $2 it was a little pricey, but it definitely made for good eating. — JP

4 of 5 stars
It may take a minute to warm up to the idea of some tongue-on-tongue action, but the lengua (cow tongue) taco is well worth the risk and potential gross factor. But that won’t last long — it is chewy with a lighter meat taste and the homemade tomatilla sauce makes for a great combination of taste and texture. — JF

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel 2024 Orientation Guide