El Taquero, which opened in July 2020, offers a number of items that lovers of Mexican food might recognize, including tacos with carne asada, chicken, al pastor or birria—the tender, stew-style meat originally developed in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Order a taco or two and be delighted by the dark-yellow, hand-made corn tortillas that come with every taco at El Taquero. I ordered an asada version and was not disappointed—but what has me dreaming of excuses to pedal my bike by again is the birria.
Served in a number of different ways at this cart, I ordered it ramen style. El Taquero's Ramen Birria features Asian-style ramen noodles bathed in the birria's hearty consomé, along with plenty of beef (traditional birria is often made with lamb, but beef is popular, too), lime, salsa and onions. For those looking for something off the beaten path, yet comforting in all the right ways, this is it.
The birria is a family recipe owners Hansel Chavez and Hannah Cain learned from Chavez's mother, who owns the adjacent Colima Market and another market in Madras. With birria so popular in Cain and Chavez's home state of California—and especially so in Southern California, where Chavez hails from—they wanted to bring those flavors to the forefront here in Central Oregon.
"We really wanted to bring that Mexicali vibe," Cain told the Source about the birria. "We have a handful of other meats, but that's what we wanted our specialty to be."
El Taquero also makes other creative mashups, including the Birria Pizzadilla with three layers of tortilla, birria and cheese, as well as Quesotacos, featuring hand-made tortillas fried with melted cheese and the meat of your choice.
Oh, and don't even get me started on the aguas frescas. This week it was Agua de Sandia—watermelon water, my absolute fave. Like other carts in Central Oregon, the couple shares their daily specials and aguas frescas flavors on social media, where patrons are enticed to see the items on offer that particular day.
As a family owned and operated business—Cain and Chavez are currently the only two working in the cart—the focus is on keeping things traditional, and ensuring that everything is made fresh, the day it is sold.
As Cain put it, making everything fresh "changes the flavor of our food so drastically." With that focus on day-of preparation, getting there early might ensure you get to try the food at all. With spring bringing warmer weather, El Taquero tends to sell out of most items by day's end.
228 NE Greenwood Ave., Bend
Open Wed.-Sun 11:30am-6pm
Order online atel-taquero-llc.square.site