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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Restaurant Review: Mexican Road Food in New Haven

This past Friday, I picked Ian up at the bus stop after school and we hit the road for North Stonington, CT, where my friend Eric and I were playing a gig at the North Stonington Congregational Church as a benefit for the United Church of Christ's Neighbors in Need offering.

As luck (and a little bit of planning) would have it, we reached New Haven at 4:00 with enough time to get off at Long Wharf Drive (Exit 46), where we stopped for lupper (you know, like brunch, only later...). Not only is Long Wharf the home of New Haven's information center and the pier where the schooners Amistad and Quinnipiack dock, but it has two parking areas where a variety of food trucks do a brisk business. I've always been a fan of lunch trucks, probably because we never had an ice-cream truck drive down the country road I lived when I was a kid or some similar deprivation.

New Haven has an embarrassment of riches, when it comes to trucks lining the harbor and, during the summer months, the food vendors are joined by trucks selling flags, kites, oriental rugs, and just about anything else that could be sold from a truck. Even on this cold and windy October day, there were no fewer than four trucks in the parking area waiting to sell us food, and another several trucks in a second parking area just about 1/4 mile east of where we had stopped. Ian and I passed the hotdog truck and two apparently identical "Ixtapa" trucks (who were selling tacos for $1.50 each) and made our way to the bargain truck, "Santa Apolonia," for the $1.00 tacos.

Ian ordered three tacos de res (beef tacos) and I got an assortment of four: one beef, one enchilada, one chorizo and one pork, with a couple tamarind Jarritos, of our favorite Mexican sodas, to wash them down. Prep time was longer than seemed reasonable, but that may have been due to the cold wind and little spits of rain that kept Ian and me literally holding on to our hats.

When we were given our food, it was carefully wrapped up in a single styrofoam container, with the plates neatly stacked inside, along with some lime wedges and two salsas - one red, the other green.

Food in hand and jackets zipped up to the collar, Ian and I walked across Long Wharf Drive to a picnic table by the water. As we unpacked the food, the wind caught Ian's plate and nearly blew it off of the table, tacos and all. Somehow, my son, the taco-ninja, managed to snag his plate full of beefy goodness before it went completely airborne. The four-inch tacos were delightful, especially the chorizo, accompanied with the salsa verde and lime juice.

Next time we pass through with a bit of time on our hands, I expect that Ian and I will stop to try some of the other offerings, either from Santa Apolonia or one of the other trucks. It is a great way for some comparatively quick and tasty eats and, at just a dollar each, there's no reason not to try a bunch of new things.

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