The Border Taco Truck

St. Paul's Border Taco Truck.

Aaron Fenster / Heavy Table

In the past few months, the number of mobile food operations and farmers market food vendors has exploded (see our Street Food Directory for evidence), and the foodie public and media have rushed to embrace them all. However, despite all of the fanfare, a growing chorus of ambivalent voices clings to the underbelly of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s burgeoning street food scene.

As constant as an atomic clock, the question of authenticity emerges again and again. That is, what can we make of a street food culture where the overwhelming majority of the vendors are employees of established restaurants, former chefs, and / or educated white folks? While the street food traditionalists are certainly running the risk of limiting or essentializing the very thing they love, they do have a point.

We have all of the fancy salads, lobster, and grass-fed beef we could want out on the streets; but at their price range, all they can be is a rare indulgence for an unsalaried, blue collar worker such as myself. Most of the time, all I want or need is a bona fide cheap taco truck.

A carnitas taco and tamale from St. Paul's Border Taco Truck.

Aaron Fenster / Heavy Table

The Border / Frontera Taco Truck is a beast of a vehicle, appearing like a gleamingly white cloud in the most desolate of parking lots. Sightings of the truck place it at various locations along University Ave. in St. Paul. When we found it recently, it was parked in front of a Bally Total Fitness at Dunlap St.

Its offerings are typical Mexican fast foods: tacos, burritos, tamales, and quesadillas. While the vegetarian options are sparse, one may talk the cooks into whipping up something special for the meatless crowd. The carnitas taco with a flour tortilla ($2.40) is modestly garnished with sour cream, some gringo shredded cheese, iceberg lettuce, and tomatoes. You can also get them “Mexican Style,” with two corn tortillas ($2.13). The meat was clearly the star of the show, and it was full of crunchy bits and excellent flavor. If you order a taco with corn tortillas, it comes with raw onion, cilantro, and lime. Both preparations come with a perkily piquant hot salsa. Border’s tamales ($2) come with either pork or chicken, and are also quite tasty.

Though there isn’t much for ambiance, there is a fold-out table in front of the truck if you want to take in the sights of an urban retail wasteland and converse with the truck’s lovely cashier and staff. Alternately, you could always eat in your car. You can also order take-out if you call ahead. Now that’s what I call street food.

BEST BET: Carnitas on basically anything, but especially on corn tortilla tacos.

Border Taco Truck
Street Food in St. Paul

Various locations; call to check.
St. Paul, MN 55104
651.366.0675
HOURS:
Mon-Fri 11am-6pm
BAR: None
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Sparse
ENTREE RANGE: $2-9

Tacos and a tamale from St. Paul's Border Taco Truck.

Aaron Fenster / Heavy Table

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7 Comments

  1. Thanks for writing this. I think the question of who gets to participate in the “food truck revolution” is an important one and I appreciate your covering it in a positive and constructive way. Of course there is much more to be said on the topic!

  2. They also serve large, 2-meal burritos with the same tasty ingredients.

  3. I disagree that the newer trucks with more quality ingredients are out of reach as far as their pricing. Sameh Wadi has a new truck out and pretty much everything is around $4.50. I’m finding a kind of reverse elitism in the rejection of quality food. Really, you want to eat iceberg lettuce and gringo cheese? Yes, the lobster is higher but to me that is an exception. Dandelion Kitchen has everything around $5. Chef Shack- $3-$7 for the majority, and you get a good size portion. I suppose if you only can spend $2 for lunch then these prices will be too high. I am very low income but I care about the quality of my food and want to see creative good stuff out there, there’s plenty of cheap things at Taco Bell etc.

  4. Chef's Wife09/09/2010Reply

    Enjoyed Chef Shack at KFM on Sunday; outstanding portions for the price & quality. 2 adults and 1 child ate for $18.00 with dessert. All 3 items sharable and I couldn’t have finished any of them by myself for lunch. Agree with artsy – if you want cheap, go elsewhere with no expectations. Thing is, I think there are expectations….

  5. Jane Prince09/17/2010Reply

    Border Tacos is fantastic! Note however, that Emma must use off-street parking because of municipal regulations that aren’t friendly to the new food truck trend. Contact city officials and urge them to find a way to accommodate food trucks!

  6. White folks? Have you ever written a review where you talk about black folks or Asian folks in the same tone?

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