It’s sometimes worth taking a chance on rather dodgy looking place though. Look past that queasy façade. Stop, get out of your car and smell. Do you smell food?? If so, that’s a good sign. Look at it. Does it have a crowd around (or in) it?? Yes, again, a good thing.
In Huntsville, Alabama at the corner of 9th and Governors in a rather unfortunate looking parking lot, you’ll find El Cazador (the hunter). Affectionately known to locals as “The Taco Bus” it’s the brain child of owner Filiberto Pelayo.
Filberto, originally from California opened the parent restaurant, Taqueria El Cazador on Memorial Parkway (Huntsville’s spine). He’s added three satellites, (one in sister city Decatur) with the bus becoming an institution. It’s made the list of Huntsville’s 10 Oddest Eateries and getting the reputation as being the best Mexican food in town.
From the outside it looks, well, like a bus. Not a fun looking one either like the Partridge family’s but almost more like a prison transfer bus. There’s also a covered picnic area beside.
The inside is pure functionality. Stainless steel lines the “Dining area” and kitchen. The menu is posted on a wall beside the cash register. A lone, over worked fan keeps the air moving inside in the absence of air conditioning.The cramped kitchen is where all the magic happens. Food is prepared on site with the support of the main restaurant by one or another of the Perayo family.
If you’re a little nervous about the cleanliness, don’t worry, The Taco Bus scores in the high 90’s on their health rating.
Our visit was just after the 11am opening so we pretty much had the run of the place. A quesadilla and a bunch of tacos made up a nice, fresh tasting lunch.
So let’s get a look at the goodies.
We skipped the local soft drink products for the Mexican varietals. Mrs. Sippi’s grapefruit soda was a bit like Fresca but a lot less sweet. My sangria flavoured soda tasted like a non alcoholic sangria. It was pretty refreshing and certainly a nice change.We got squeeze bottles of the two house sauces, red and green. Both were spicy and full of flavour. They didn’t over power with heat but merely elevated. I particularly liked the green tomatillo sauce.The chicken quesadilla was the best I’ve had. The bar I used to hang out in made a terrific version as do I. This one was simply better. A great balance of meat and cheese.The pork and beef tacos were exceptional. The beef was especially complimented with the salsa verde. The taco shells packed a big corn flavour.So we ordered more tacos. This time beef tongue and cheek. I’m new to tongue and have enjoyed it very much but this was only okay. The beef cheek was very tasty on it’s own but probably a little too delicate for the taco. So both were good but not as good as the others.They make a really good chicken tamale. The chicken had a more subtle flavor than I was expecting but the masa packed a great corn taste.Not to be out done the carnitas tacos were fantatic. Especially with the salsa verde to kick up the heat. Their fresh corn tortillas are fantastic.Perhaps the best thing on the menu (so far) is the birria. This beef stewed in a chili broth is packed with flavor. The warm tortillas and garnishes provided an extremely tasty and filling lunch.You may have noticed some carrots in the pictures. The above picture shows carrot, chili (Serrano) and onions. They were all pickled (probably together) and had a good vinegary taste and a pretty good amount of pop to them as well. They aren’t blow the doors off hot but quite fiery still. I will again point out that everything had a nice fresh taste. There was a certain lightness to it as well. We ate a fair bit of food for two people yet didn’t have that “Oh god, I ate too much” feeling after.
You can find The Taco Bus at the corner of 9th Ave and Governors Drive NW in Huntsville, Al.
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Well that’s all for now folks. See ya next time in the food court.