The Novice Foodie's Taco Crawl
Any foodie can tell you there is just as much satisfaction to be had from delicious food on the cheap as there is from a multi-course haute cuisine dinner. One way to find reliably delicious, cheap food is to hit up the ethnic areas of town, so I decided a taco crawl down Cherokee Street, home to several Mexican taquerias, would be apropos. While I've never done a taco crawl, per se, I'm no stranger to the bar crawl, so I figured I could knock out tacos from at least three establishments, possibly four.
I enlisted my friend Christine to accompany me on a gorgeous St Louis Saturday to the land of agua fresca and meats of all kinds. The parameters were as such: no food other than tacos (except, perhaps, chips and guacamole); agua fresca is the only acceptable beverage. My own personal parameter was that I must try at least one type of meat I hadn't before.
Agua fresca is a cold, sweet, fruit-based beverage, often creamy, always delicious. I knew I wanted strawberry, and Christine got lime, and neither disappointed. We slurped these, with free chips and salsa verde, while waiting for our tacos, which we could see being prepared in the large kitchen behind the counter.
I think a lot of people might feel intimidated visiting ethnic enclaves like those on Cherokee. Everyone speaks Spanish, and I'm always painfully self-conscious that I'm "doing it wrong" because I'm not an insider and no habla Español. I got over this while living in Germany for a while, where I'm sure most Germans I encountered regarded me as just another idiot American speaking broken German, subsequently shattering any pride I had in terms of intercultural fumblings. Now, when I go places where I'm the minority, I just go with it, ask questions and eat whatever I end up with. I like to observe everything happening around me so that next time, I'll be slightly less of an idiot.
There's plenty to watch at El Torito. The giant kitchen behind the counter was a hub of activity. A man stacked and packaged tortillas spit out by a machine, while several women stirred giant cauldrons of stewing meat. Neighborhood people came in and out, getting to-go boxes from the buffet.