500 Tacos: Taqueria Gardenia

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Taqueria Gardenia
11300 N. Interstate 35 at the Shell station (map). Hours: 6am-3pm Mon-Sat; closed Sun
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 03.26.15
 
Stumbling across an uncharted taco trailer is like finding a scratchoff ticket and winning 10 bucks. It’s the little things that count. And at Taqueria Gardenia, that 10 bucks will buy four tacos and a gallon of gas at the Shell station next door.
 
The taco: Papas con huevos
This is what you order at a gas-station taco trailer: breakfast tacos with griddle-fried potatoes and scrambled eggs on fresh corn tortillas. The oil softens the potatoes and gives them a few hard edges, and the eggs are more like fried and chopped, the whole thing a little rough — like the day ahead. At $1.50 apiece, get some to share. ($1.50)
 
 
 Tortillas: The mixing bowl mushrooming with masa tells me the corn tortillas are patted and pressed to order. They’re thick, warm and flexible, freckled on the flat-top like an early spring smile, and their big corn-chip flavor makes everything here taste better. Flour tortillas are storebought.
 Bonus tacos: For $2 apiece, Gardenia puts together solid trailer versions of al pastor (as orange and black as a blood-moon Halloween), carnitas (a tender canvas for salsa and escabeche) and carne asada (grilled hard and knobby like your granddad’s campout steak; quit your complaining).
 Salsa: There’s a runny jalapeño green sauce and a serviceable chile de arbol red. But the real story lies under foil on the trailer rail, where there’s a quick-pickled escabeche of onions, carrots and jalapeños, a bin of chopped cabbage with radishes, another with freshly chopped pico and yet another with grilled onions and charred whole jalapeños.
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)