500 S West Temple (southwest corner, at the Chevron gas station)
4 out of 5 stars
Tacos are $1 each
My Christmas gift came early this year. One week before Christmas I got a voicemail from taco enthusiast Tyler. He told me of a miracle I could not believe. There are prophecies and tales of future events, but when it comes to tacos I take them very seriously. They are sacred. But Tyler knows that tacos are sacred so this could be no prank. This was serious business.
He told me that there was a brand new taco stand right across the street from where he and I work. What? Really? A taco stand visible from our office? Seconds away? If this were true, then a true Christmas miracle was about to unfold.
I hadn’t been in the office much due to Finals week so I decided to try the stand (if this miracle truly existed) the next time I was in the office. This week as I walked into work I saw the glorious vista featured above. A taco stand at the Chevron station. You bet I heard angels singing.
I arrived at the taco stand the same time as two other women who work at the hotel near my work. I knew I had to get an al pastor like I do at each taco stand. And I can’t say no to barbacoa either. Still, I wanted some expert opinions. Were these women veterans of the 2-week-old Taqueria Lupitas stand? I slapped on my taco journalist hat… BECAUSE I WAS ABOUT TO FIND OUT!
I haven’t spoken Spanish in months, so my words tumbled out in a mess, but I was still able to find out that the women had been coming t0 the taco stand since its opening. If I had one more taco to be allotted, they suggested I try the asada. Not to be missed, they said. They also laughed at my Spanish because I sound super gringo these days.
I walked up, ordered and set in on some intense taco journalism to find out how this Christmas miracle came to be.
I spoke to Antonio and his brother who are from Michoacán, Mexico. They told me while cooking that the stand has been open for 2 weeks now. When asked if they had any difficulty opening up a taco stand on the property of the gas station, they laughed and said that was the easy part. In fact, the gas station is very glad to have them but getting the license from the city was not a fun process. They told me that it went on for such a long time that they were losing hope that it was going to happen, but finally they got it and they are fully licensed by the city. I should add that their stand is one of the cleanest I have seen in SLC.
I asked about the clientele they have since they are on a busy road (500 S) which is a main route to leave downtown SLC and jump onto I-15. They told me that much of the business comes on foot, especially from my office building and from nearby hotels. Still, they told me that they’ve laughed because there are other taco fanáticos who come rushing over. In fact, they have many customers who have slammed on their brakes upon noticing the stand and screeched into the parking lot to snag a load of tacos for their commute home. Business, they tell me, is going very well so far.
Antonio said he had to laugh when I ordered the barbacoa. He said that their gringo customers can’t get enough of the barbacoa which is a sentiment not shared by their latino clientele. Antonio mentions that he loves that the stand is well frequented by gringos and latinos alike.
As my tacos arrived, I was nervous. What if they weren’t good? What good would a taco stand be across from my work building if they were not super bien rico? Luckily, they were very delicious as were the salsas and fixins. My new amigas were right to recommend the asada. It was savory, juicy and my favorite of the bunch. The barbacoa was good as well. Not as good as other taco stands, but very tasty. The al pastor was honestly nothing to write home about. Not nearly enough flavor. Not as spicy as what I was expecting. Maybe I caught them on a bad day and of course since I am so close I will definitely be trying it again. I will keep you posted.
As I left, I told them how happy I was to have a taco stand so close to work. In fact, I had to tell them, “En verdad, este carrito es mi regalito de Navidad.” (Truly, this taco stand is my Christmas present). My new amigas burst into laughter as did Antonio and his brother working the grill. They laughed, but they also new my sincerity.
As I left after we had a good laugh, Antonio asked me “Pues, nos vemos pronto?”
Yes, Antonio, I will be back very soon.
Why is it that everywhere in this city establishments (both Mexican owned and other than Mexican owned) pass off roast beef as barbacoa? Traditionally barbacoa comes from the cow’s cheek, jaw, and tongue. This stuff around here is roast beef! I’m so offended by this. I just want to get an authentic cow tongue/cheek taco. What do u recommend?
I just happened to be in salt lake for the outdoor retailor show, which is right down the street. So I braved the cold and the snow to walk here, get the tacos, and walk back with them for everyone. Even though they had no lengua it was worth it. I would walk twice the distance in a snow storm for this place.
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