I must preface this post by saying that I spent fifteen years of my youth living all over California. Mexican food has to be exceptional for me to gush about it. That said, I thought Mexican Grill Stand was decent. The food was freshly prepared and the prices were excellent. Service was friendly and quick, and the portions were sizeable. Plus you get a free canned soda with any entree order.
Location: On 13th Street across from the Paley Library, outside of Speakman Hall
Pay: Cash Only
What I tried: Tacos Al Pastor, Grilled Chicken Burrito
The tiny cart has all the Mexican staples: tacos, burritos, quesadillas. Various toppings are available for any of these: chorizo, ground beef, chicken, pork and pineapple, fish, or veggie. Veggie tacos have a mixture of corn, tomatoes, and zucchini. The gargantuan burritos are overflowing with rice, black beans, salsa, lettuce, and chipotle mayo, and the tortilla is toasted on the grill until slightly browned. I tried the al pastor tacos and they were super spicy and tender with the flavor of annatto and guajillos.
By the way, look at the size of this burrito (fork for scale).
All sounds good, right?
Here are my complaints.
The burritos are supposed to have sour cream and guacamole. Here is a close-up of the inside of the burrito. No sour cream. No guacamole. If this California girl is promised guacamole, there darn well better be some creamy avocado deliciousness all up in my grill. So imagine my disappointment when I ate the whole burrito waiting for even just a dollop of guac.
Now for the tacos. Al Pastor is my thing. Puebla style Mexican food is my favorite of all the sub-regional Mexican cuisines. Pineapple juices tenderize the pork. The best version has small bits of pineapple mixed in with the chopped, marinated pork. When I see “pork and pineapple taco” on a menu, I expect that those pineapple bits will be there. Nope. Al Pastor doesn’t necessarily need the bits of pineapple, but if you call it a pork and pineapple taco, they are implied. I did enjoy that they were prepared the traditional way, with onions and cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Simple and simply amazing. And three tacos and a soda for $6 is a great deal. Despite my nitpicking, so far Mexican Grill Stand is my favorite Mexican truck on campus.