Pupusas & Patience at Tacos Marias/ Tacos Patzcuaros"/>
The Truck: Tacos Marias/ Tacos Patzuaros, 8303 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., 218-3550.
Jake Vorono Maria's pop-up front-yard kitchen on wheels awaits you.
The Fare: Mexican/Salvadoran.
The Stop: The corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Rose Street in the Rainier Valley is a quiet and residential one; a half-mile past the Othello station, the periodic whirr of the passing light rail is the most defining atmospheric noise. Ranking second to that are the sounds emanating from within Tacos Marias/Tacos Patzcuaros, a shiny silver taco truck perched on the side of the road in the front yard of a house. The house belongs to the truck's proprietor, Maria, who spends her day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. listening to the radio or streaming a telenovela off bassy computer speakers while preparing pupusas, tortas, tacos, burritos, and more. You may be at a taco truck, but Maria's graciousness and the made-to-order richness of her food makes you feel like you're a guest in her own pop-up front yard kitchen. And as with any homestyle meal worth a damn, you've gotta wait.I've been to Tacos Marias twice now, where I've been part of the only party "dining in." Both times, we waited more than 25 minutes for our food to arrive. The first time was with former Voracious writer Angela Garbes, who hipped me to the truck; it was a pleasantly mild late weekday morning, and we sat enjoying the outside air and conversation, then ravenously bit into our meals with unanticipated hunger after receiving our tortas and pupusas. The second time was in the early evening under warm sun; it was a lovely day to sit outside with friends, and we sipped our horchata for over a half-hour waiting for the food to be finished. The lesson is this: Do not arrive at Tacos Marias impatient and hungry. Do not order at the window if you're in a rush (call in a to-go order instead). But if you'd like to chill out in a yard in South Seattle--in a neighborhood most only see whizzing by them on the way to Sea-Tac--and the elements aren't abrasive, Tacos Marias is absolutely worth the wait.
Jake Vorono Pupusas with slaw.
Pupusas are an unusual sighting at any given taco truck: the Salvadoran staple is a mix of carne (in Maria's case, pork), cheese, and refried beans in a soft corn casing. Maria, who is Salvadoran herself, makes each pupusa fresh. While the last couple of pupusas I've had around town have been kind of soggy, Maria's are crispier, with an ideal balance of each ingredient; complimented with a generous helping of spicy-sour slaw, they are a must-order for a stop here. They are only $2, and two pupusas make for a solid meal.
Jake Vorono Tacos with all the fixings.
We ordered a taco sampler platter ($1.25/taco) with chicken, pork, beef/asada, and beef tongue/lengua; garnishes abounded when the plate finally arrived. Each carne was genuinely excellent, with the asada and lengua as the best in my opinion. The good news is that there's no weak meat.
Tacos Marias also offers enormous burritos with sour cream and cheese ($5.50), tortas with the traditional carne, lettuce, tomato, and avocado on a soft roll ($5.50) and full-size Carne Asada and Pollo Asado plates for $8.50. Affordable and exceptional, while it may be on wheels Tacos Marias does not roll out to you; you must roll out to the truck. And if you have time, it's worth the journey.