With most public pyrotechnic displays canceled amid COVID-19, you can still ignite fireworks on your taste buds with the eats from this Clintonville-based taco truck
Most Fourth of July celebrations will not be illuminated by municipal fireworks shows this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. This means I won’t be heading to Whetstone Park in Clintonville, as I often have in the past, to watch the night sky flash with blasts of color and light.
But it doesn’t mean that Clintonville is lacking in pyrotechnics — not if you know about the red hot sauce that ignites facial flames when applied to the real-deal Mexican food served at a nifty taco truck called Los Agavez Taqueria.
Los Agavez Taqueria initially looks like a fairly routine taco truck stationed in the parking lot of the Super Food Mart convenience store. But peer deep into the Creamsicle-colored vehicle and you’ll notice an uncommon feature positioned behind a friendly server clad in a branded polo shirt: a “trompo” loaded with pork al pastor, the Mexican answer to shawarma meat.
“Trompo” is Spanish for “spinning top.” When discussing Mexican food, though, a trompo is the kind of rotating spit used in gyro and shawarma shops. And when pork is seasoned with mild but fragrant spices (that include red-tinting achiote), then stacked underneath a pineapple (which gets chipped onto the meat) and slow-cooked and seared on a trompo to create pork al pastor, it becomes a delicacy worth seeking out.Andy and Joel are still waiting on shredded cheese, as it's the only way they can eat their fajitas. Sign up for our daily newsletter
The succulent pork al pastor is king at Agavez, but the other meats offered by the taqueria are pretty good, too, including: sausage (salty but delicious chorizo); pollo (tender strips of griddled chicken breast}; and asada (griddled and chopped beef).
These, and everything else cooked at Agavez, are boldly flavored but not spicy. Enter the aforementioned, hurts-so-good red hot sauce, which should be carefully applied in tiny blots. If you don’t want to get lit up like a Roman candle, Agavez offers a mild and creamy green sauce, too.
As in good brick-and-mortar taquerias — whose food Agavez can compete with — those meats can be eaten in multiple guises that include righteous street tacos ($2) assembled with warm, soft corn tortillas garnished with onions and cilantro and served with lime, radishes and cucumbers.
If you want something bigger and even better, target the terrific Huaraches ($8): wonderfully crisp, house-made, pancake-sized masa disks loaded with meat, creamy refried beans, lettuce, crema and cotija cheese.
Most of those same ingredients — along with nice chicken cutlets, pork al pastor, carne asada, melted cheese, mayo and avocado — are stuffed into a griddle-toasted telera roll to create the enormous Torta, an excellent value at $9.
The California Burrito ($9) here is oddly fashioned without french fries (a defining ingredient), but I didn’t really mind because the well-constructed, hefty assembly came with a side of tortilla chips, plus creamy, zippy queso dip, and the burrito was packed with good-quality black beans, carne asada, chorizo and melted cheese.
A couple of entree platters often seen in taquerias without wheels are offered. Neither was perfect — the Choripollo ($13.50), with melted mozzarella fused to chicken and chorizo, was very salty; the Alambre ($13), which resembles fajitas bound in melted cheese, lacked its promised bacon — but both tasted great.
And both entrees came with warm, soft corn tortillas, plus above-average Mexican rice and refried beans. Both meals were also decorated with shredded lettuce and a sizable blob of sour cream.
If your mood is leaning toward culinary maximalism and thrill seeking, you can scoop up the contents of either platter into the provided tortillas and dot the tacos you’ve made with the fiery red hot sauce and cooling sour cream. The result is a “Red, White and BOOM!” celebration that explodes on your taste buds.