The Great Airport Road Food Truck Quest begins – Santa Fe New Mexican
I’ve been writing about food in Santa Fe for The New Mexican for the better part of four years now. I’ve sat down with some of the finest chefs in this town; I’ve written about everything from crab boils to vegan ice cream.
It feels as though all of it led to this moment: taking on the biggest — and most fun — challenge of my food-writing career.
I’m calling it The Great Airport Road Food Truck Quest.
I set out to stop in at every food truck I could find along Airport Road’s bustling corridor, sampling some of the best tacos and tortas this great culinary city has to offer.
My quest took me to 17 food trucks (one has since closed), small businesses offering birria and barbacoa, pupusas and rolled ice cream. There were doubtless some trucks I missed during my half-dozen trips. (In fact, on two separate occasions, one particular mobile unit was missing when I headed west down Airport, but parked and operating by the time I’d U-turned to head back east toward Cerrillos Road.)
Food trucks are reliable — pleasing food prepped fresh and fast — but they can also be unpredictable. Details you find online won’t always prove accurate: In many cases, you really must call or visit yourself to verify hours and days of operation, even location.
Fortunately, Airport Road has such an abundance of food trucks that when one is closed, it simply presents an opportunity to try something new. You’ll meet truck owners and operators who are glad to see you and happy to recommend a popular dish, one usually ready in 10 minutes or less.
In fact, my quest showed me the joys of ordering from more than one food truck at a time. I wholeheartedly recommend choosing a couple at a time and ordering a dish or two from each. Compare plates of asada tacos, or trade halves of massive tortas with a pal or partner. Spread your money around a little; I made a small new culinary memory — and picked up a soul-satisfying meal — at every truck I visited.
If you haven’t fully explored all of Airport Road’s food trucks, there’s no better spot to get your feet wet than the group clustered in a lot near O’Reilly Auto Parts, on the right as you head down Airport from Cerrillos. We’ll start there; in my next two columns, I’ll share some of the more unusual options you’ll find, as well as what a mini taco tour taught me about trying trucks for the first time.
The three trucks at 4725 Airport Road provided a perfect introduction to the variety I’d discover as I explored further.
The woman at the window at Manny’s Tortas, a festive, striped truck with dangling lights strung outside and a distinctive hat-and-sunglasses logo, recommended I try the asada torta. (Note: At each truck, I typically asked for a recommendation and went with whatever was suggested, knowing it would likely be a popular or especially crowd-pleasing choice. To a truck, the owners and employees were more than happy to guide me.)
I was handed a pager — the only one I received on my journey — which allowed me to stroll the rest of the parking lot without worrying I’d miss my order. At Manny’s, tortas are the stars, but the menu also features tacos, quesadillas and burritos, as well as gorditas, …….