Drive eastward on Airport Road in Santa Fe toward Cerrillos and you just might wonder if you accidentally traipsed into the Twilight Zone and somehow found yourself in Los Angeles. At the very least, you might find yourself declaring “I knew I should have made that left turn in Albuquerque.” “What is this madness,” you ask. As we found out, on weekends Airport Road is home to a veritable cavalcade of taco trucks, the overarching term for food trucks of all types in Los Angeles. Prowling the mean streets of the City of Angels are more than 3,000 licensed taco trucks and carts. Street food has become a billion-dollar industry in L.A.
According to Yelp, there are only 42 food trucks in Santa Fe, a far cry from the 3,000 plus in Los Angeles. On one particular Saturday in October, we marveled at just how many of those 42 food trucks were stationed in parking lots, vacant lots and cozy tree-lined spots on Airport Road. Most of them it seemed, proffered the Mexican food that made Los Angeles the mecca for street food. Our quest was to experience the reputed best at El Queretano. That quest took us past at least one food truck in each block, every one of them with queued diners clamoring to partake of the featured fare. El Queretano’s reputation obviously preceded it. When we reached it, we were disappointed to find out that because of a large take-out order, we’d have to wait at least half-an-hour just to place our order.
It would be erroneous to label any other food truck a consolation prize, Ms. Congeniality so to speak. The hazy smoke plumes emanating from several of them and wafting into passing cars were like delicious siren’s calls beckoning hungry motorists to stop. We stopped at the one closest to the Santa Fe Bypass, one with the auspicious name Master Food Truck. Ostensibly, this food truck has mastered the culinary art of preparing some of Santa Fe’s best sopes, burritos, tortas, quesadillas and for good measure, burgers. Though relatively new to the City Different, Master Food Truck has garnered acclaim from the Santa Fe Reporter.
Available options from which you can can have your tacos, tortas, burritos, quesadillas and nachos constructed are carne desebrada (shredded beef), carne asada (grilled beef), buche (pork stomach), tripas (small intestines), barbacoa (steam cooked meat) and chicharron prensado (pressed pork). With so many adventurous choices, you’d think my Kim would go outside her comfort zone and try something her intrepid husband recommends. Alas, she found my suggestions for buche and tripas unappetizing and ordered a very basic, very boring carne asada burrito. Okay, “boring” is not usually a trait ascribed to carne asada, but when it’s encased in a tortilla with nothing else (no cheese, no salsa, no chile, no onions…), it’s boring. For an essayist of the New Mexico culinary experience, it was one of those “I’m not with her” moments.
My choice would land on the extreme end of a spectrum ranging from “safe and sure” to “fraught with risk.” With chicharron prensado you don’t always know what you’re going to get. It could be anything from pressed pork carnitas as made by Elotes Del Rancho to soggy pork rinds. That’s essentially what was in my chicharron prensado torta though there was also a slice of ham, several salchichas (hot dog wieners), melted queso, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and a side of incendiary green chile. Texturally the chicharron prensado took some getting used to, but on a sandwich replete with notes of flavor, I stopped thinking about that texture rather quickly. Call this torta an artful combination of ingredients with the type of synergy that makes flavors sing–and sing well. The bread was soft and pillowy, challenging it to retain its integrity with all those moist ingredients. Served with the torta were French fried potatoes sliced into thin wedges. They were excellent.
Should you ever find yourself in Los Angeles…er, Airport Road in Santa Fe, make sure you visit one of the phalanx of food trucks dotting the landscape. If you want a very good chicharron prensado or want to try buche, barbacoa or tripas, visit Master Food Truck. You’ll be happy you did!
Master Food Truck
502 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 3 October 2020
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Chicharron Prensado Torta, Carnitas Burrito
4 thoughts on “Master Food Truck – Santa Fe, New Mexico”
Some probably unwanted comments:
1) I always ask what is going to be in a torta before I order it. I have found that you never ever want to get one with salchichas (this seems to be a New Mexico thing … I despise hot dogs) or ham (I love good ham but you never ever get good ham at a taco truck) or chicharron (there seems to be two types of chicharron you encounter in New Mexico … the pure fat pork rinds which I can’t stand or the ones with mainly delicious fried pork with a little bit of fat … The best exemplar of the latter that I can name for you is El Modelo’s chicharron burrito … Superb!)
2) The Santa Fe Reporter is usually not to be trusted on anything culinary … Alex Devore wrote the review on food trucks that you read … and led you to your bad experience. Where do they get their food writers from? They write like they’re vegetarians from the upper Midwest.
3) There are some really good taco trucks in Santa Fe. You need to ask people who live here and maybe might know something about Mexican food about where to go. In general a random taco truck on Airport Road will give you a reasonable taco (surprise!) but an abysmal torta. The worst torta of my live was a Cubano from a taco truck on Airport Road … hot dogs! pressed ham! carnitas instead of roast pork! bad cheese! …. you have to have a sense of self preservation here … not the place for an intrepid try anything food writer.
Alas Verda, if I may…and tho I don’t know why I haven’t been in 1/2 a year, my choice for crisp, but crunchy, just right sized chicharrones is in a Stuffed Sopa with beans, red chile, extra onions at Casa de Benavidez, e.g. in the informal dining room in the back or the bestest of tropical patios within (altho I’ve always had the dinner when inside). [Yo, RE fatty Chicharrones, I am a Jack Sprat type!] Over the course of 12 years at least, its been my Go-To, never disappointed, Chicharrones venue.
~ Elsewise, I will regale ya with my oft told ‘Provenance de Chicharrones’ which was during a 4ish AM matanza in the heart of the South Valley. As it was my First, and when the other hombres pulled out their knives to shave the pig at my future In-Laws, I was given an honorary Yellow-Orangy Bic Razor https://tinyurl.com/yy49adx3 as a safety measure for the sole Gabacho. For some reason, I was however, entrusted with an “oar” to stir/rend the pork in a “disc harrow” over a pinion fire.
~ Ay, chihuahua! what an experience to be handed a warm tortilla straight off of an estufa de leña https://tinyurl.com/yyfrqag6 like that to lay out fresh chicharrones in, smother in freshly made red chile to wrap it all up to enjoy. Nothing better with which to enhance a shot of J.W.’s Red Label, just as the sun hinted at rising which would serve to wake up the flies, albeit all was done!
Dear BOTVOLR, what an experience! Thanks for sharing. I’ve seen the photos of New Mexicans making the chicharron on the discos. That’s awesome.
My family (my aunt especially) always made chicharron on the stove top but even as a kid I never liked it much. Masas de puerco fritas was the version of chicharron that had mostly meat on it. I loved that and still do. Masas with some maduros and congrí is something near heaven in la cocina criolla. Here’s a video of the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Jh5hch7Gkg
PS: I didn’t know gabacho meant gringo in Mexican Spanish. I’ve only ever heard the word in Spain where it is a somewhat pejorative term for the French.
Very interesting video el verdadero…Thank You…Du-Uh, guess I thought ‘inside the box’ that that cut of pig would only be when ya had a matanza and we couldn’t get it in a store to have my Vieja make some at home as well…LMAO
RE Gabacho: the first time I learned of the term was reading the “Ask a Mexican” column of Gustavo Arellano https://tinyurl.com/y594fwcr which I think appeared here in ABQ in The Alibi newspaper (for its recent change https://tinyurl.com/y6ch75xp) Beyond your origin reference and reportedly, Gabacho is ‘supposed to be’ a derogatory/pejorative term. Alas, I don’t think I took it that way in the few columns I read. I don’t take nor give/use it that way…nor others like Polack, Mic, Gumba, etc….much to the chagrin/ire of others…https://tinyurl.com/y34fuymt