In my lifetime I have eaten hundreds, if not thousands, of tacos. Not only are they a California staple but they are my favorite food. The countless options of asada or chicken, flour or corn tortilla, and whether or not you would prefer the recommended toppings, are difficult questions to answer when ordering your tacos. But the real question to be asking is, whose tacos are the best? I’m sure there is a hidden gem somewhere in Orange County that I have not yet tried but until then, I declare Taco Manuel the best tacos north of the Mexican border.
I am a firm believer in not judging a restaurant by its outward appearance. This philosophy can come into play as you walk up to the truck window of Taco Manuel. While the food truck fad has made the mobile restaurants more approachable to some, very few decide to risk hopping in line unless they know the food will be rewarding. This is not a problem for Taco Manuel. Their loyal customers are always lined up along the sidewalk awaiting their delicious tacos. Whether they decide to enjoy carne asada, pollo, al pastor, or even tripe––one bite of a taco will bring every customer back again.
The diverse range of choices leads me to order three different types of tacos every time I go to Taco Manuel. The total price of my regular adds to a meager $5.25, making Taco Manuel all the more appealing. Not only are you greeted by cheap prices at the window but the smell of marinated meat on the grill overwhelms your senses. The anticipation of your meal creates butterflies in your stomach as you wait for your number to be called. Never taking longer than five minutes, my order is placed on the counter along with four types of salsa and a handful of fresh limes.
Once the hot plate is in my hands, I unwrap the foil to reveal three seasoned meats accompanied by cilantro, onions, grilled chiles, and a warm tortilla. I start with the chicken––paired perfectly with the lime which allows the meat’s juice to flow onto the rest of my plate. Along to the second taco––al pastor. My tastebuds are awakened by the spice of the pork. As I realize that I’m taking my last bite of the al pastor, I remember I saved the best for last. The carne asada taco sits on my plate next to the remains of the previous meats. I close my eyes and lift the last taco up to my mouth. I make sure all the meat remains in the soft tortilla as I take my first bite.
This is the very best taco I have ever had in my life. The meat, the salsa, the cilantro, and the onions pair together flawlessly. Taco Manuel does not complicate their recipes. They keep it simple with only four main ingredients in their tacos. This taco truck has become a hotspot for foodies who appreciate good food. Whether you identify as an experienced eater or have never enjoyed a street taco, Taco Manuel is for you. And the chances are this taco will be the best thing you’ve ever eaten.
Photo Credit: Avery Krusiewicz