Cars drive by with the booming systems. Entire families spill out of the side of a minivan that, with its doors hanging open, seconds as a makeshift cafe. Everyone holds styrofoam containers in their laps. Couples approach the window, arm in arm, hungry and starry-eyed as they would be at any candlelight dinner. Brave souls go back for another dose of the torrid hot sauce, available in green (hot) and red (hottest).
While Lake Street is home to other taco trucks, El Primo in the K-Mart parking lot has the longest lines. It's also almost always there, and almost always open. Late night, rain or shine, Sunday or Monday, they're there to soothe your singular craving.
People ask me all the time where the best tacos in town can be had, and lately I find myself answering, "Primo."
But what makes them so? I don't like talking in terms of "authenticity" when it comes to tacos, because it doesn't really mean anything. But here's what these tacos are:
They're double corn tortillas that are always the ideal texture — soft and pliably fragrant yet pleasantly bubbly, suggesting just the faintest pass over a flame.
They're street-meat appropriate fillings: heavy on secondary cuts like cabeza (head meat), lengua (tongue), cesos (brain). But also primary cuts like asada (beef), chorizo, and al pastor.
They're heavy seasonings, fresh salsas, scratch cooking, and skill.
This is soul food at its best.
They're just $2.50 apiece, but we've been warned that the price may go up to $3 as the weather improves. The truck is shopworn, the cooks make each and every taco to order, and the people-watching is priceless.
Standing in a parking lot, leaning on a hot sun-absorbed car door, an icy mango Jarritos dripping down your arm, there's no room for pretense here.
Taco El Primo
Lake Street K-Mart parking lot
10 W. Lake St., Minneapolis