Taqueria Los Guachos
Easily one of the top five tacos I've ever had anywhere, the al pastor taco from Los Guachos—a large truck located outside a Latin American nightclub—are a near perfect example of the dish. Layers and layers of marinated fatty pork are properly salted and pressed so that they retain juices even as they slow cook and char from the blast of heat the vertical rotisserie gives off.
Despite a good amount of seasoning, the predominant flavor is pork, with an almost bacon-like crisp richness to it. Thin slices of grilled pineapple complete the dish. If there's one thing keeping these from legendary status in my book, it's that I wish the tortillas were charred just a bit.
Taqueria Los Guachos: 5221 Godown Rd, Columbus, OH 43235; 614-538-0211, map
A Gringa From Taqueria Los Guachos
In addition to tacos, Los Guachos serves gringas—flour tortilla-based quesadilla-like objects full of melted cheese and the meat of your choice. In truth, I almost preferred the al pastor-stuffed gringas to the actual corn tacos (shh, don't tell).
Shaving Fatty Marinated Pork From The Trompa At Taqueria Los Guachos
The meat carver is a master at his craft, rotating the spit as necessary and deftly slicing paper-thin shavings of fatty pork off the trompa and catching them in the tortilla waiting in his other hand.
Until I hit Los Potosinos, I had no clue that a decent chicken taco could exist (my first good chicken taco was soon followed by a few more in both Columbus and Detroit). Holy cow, is this great chicken!
Spice-rubbed legs are slow-cooked over a bed of hot coals in a great big outdoor grill until the skin is charred and unbelievably crisp. The chicken is then served family-style on a big plate with some of their great sauce, a side of home-cooked beans, some sliced avocado, and a stack of fresh, steamy tortillas. It's a pick-it-and-stuff-it-yourself kind of operation.
Los Potosinos, 4915 Lincoln Park Ct, Columbus, OH 43228; 614-887-6895, map
Tacos Dorados from Los Potosinos
Perhaps even better were the tacos dorados—chicken-stuffed tortillas rolled and deep-fried until crisp then topped with salsa, crema, and grated cotija cheese.
La Popular's claim to fame is their tacos de cabeza—that's steamed cow's head—made with a large proportion of rich, succulent cheek meat. It's got none of the grisliness that can often come with full-head tacos but full flavor, and a crazy amount of juice, making it the ideal taco for someone like my wife who generally eschews the more organ-rific fillings.
La Popular, 3545 West Broad Street, Columbus, OH, 43228; 614-330-1994/614-584-2572, map
La Super Torta
Defying the general rule of "the dingier the better" for taco joints, the bright, sparkling Super Torta (named after the taco truck also run by its owners) serves up some killer tinga-style tacos with tender, moist shredded meat in a bright peppery sauce. Other slow-cooked meat options—like their barbacoa or carnitas—are equally fresh tasting.
La Super Torta, 721 Georgesville Road, Columbus, OH 43228; 614-274-4192, map
This truck parked in the lot of a Shell station is more known for its tortas than tacos, but the latter are great. Not only are the fillings fresh and hot, but the corn tortillas are cooked on a hot comal fresh to order. Of the half dozen we tried, the well-balanced, moderately spicy chorizo was the best.
Los Chilangos, 1240 Georgesville Rd, Columbus, OH 43228; 614-599-7365, map
El Milagro Tortillas
El Milagro tortillas made in Michigan are the tortilla of choice for many of the better taquerias. I heartily approve of these fine flaky, corny, tender and blistered tortillas.