I am about to reveal my secret favorite Mexican eatery. If you think you can guess it, you can’t. You’ve probably never heard of it. You might have driven past it and never noticed that it’s there. But, believe me, it’s worth a stop.
Taqueria Yolandita (2157 Queen City Ave., Fairmount, 513-551-0828) can’t really be called a taco “truck.” It’s more like a taco trailer, converted from its original use into a little cookery. A window opens out over a small counter where you order, but it’s high enough that you can barely see inside. This is a one-woman operation and the proprietress takes orders, cooks, serves and smiles shyly throughout the process. I imagine that she is Yolanda and in my mind I have crowned her the Goddess of Tacos.
This totally unadorned trailer stands beside Tienda La Centro America, a Latino grocery on Queen City Avenue by Murray’s Wings. Parking places aren’t marked in the lot and cars stop where the mood suits them. On my first visit, I stayed by the exit in case I had to make a quick getaway. Now I choose the same spot because I don't want witnesses when I lick my fingers clean.
An illustrated menu board propped against the trailer shows the taqueria’s offerings: tacos (priced at three for $6); burritos; quesadillas; and tortas (all $7 each). At the window on my first visit, Yolanda greeted me with a quiet smile.
I decided to try two tacos. If they were awful, well, I was only out $4 and had time to get something else for lunch.
With my halting restaurant Spanish, I attempted to order: “Hola! Dos tacos, por favor.”
She smiled sympathetically and said, “Two tacos?”
Wonderful smells drifted from the window. After a few minutes, I saw her slicing avocado into a Styrofoam tray, which she closed and put in a plastic bag.
“Four,” she said, holding up four fingers in case my math was as bad as my Spanish. I paid, thanked her and took the heavy bag.
How could two tacos weigh this much? I opened the clamshell and couldn’t believe my eyes. Heaps of braised meat, fresh avocado, chopped onions and cilantro, quartered lemons (not limes) and slices of crisp radish. A feast!
This is nothing you can eat while driving. I had a fork in my glove compartment and I used that to eat most of the toppings before I could wrap the remainder in the soft corn tortilla shells and devour it lustily. The steak was chewy but delicious. The pork — marinated al pastor — was tender with a smoky hotness that made me purr. I was achingly full and yet I spent the rest of the afternoon wondering, distractedly, when I’d be able to return. Would dinner be too soon?
Instead I made it a weekly pilgrimage until I’d tried everything Taqueria Yolandita had to offer. An open-faced burrito was too much food to roll up, I suppose. The chicken quesadilla lured me by its scent, as it was prepared for the guy ahead of me. All made with avocado, lemons and those radishes.
Finally, it was my week to try the torta and as a filling, Yolanda suggested barbecue (or “barbacoa”). It was the best yet. I would like to be buried with one of these sandwiches to eat in the afterlife. It was that amazing.
Go. Eat. Don’t take my parking space.
CONTACT ANNE MITCHELL: firstname.lastname@example.org