Taqueria “El Paisa”
800 South Main Street (southeast corner)
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111
Open seven days a week
Reviewed Wednesday, Feb. 11, Saturday, Feb. 14 and Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009

A few months ago I mentioned that my favorite Mexican restaurant, La 35, had closed, and pleaded with you to recommend a new one. NOT ONE OF YOU ASSHOLES REPLIED! Not that I’m bitter or anything … but I have resorted to eating at taco carts on a regular basis. While my mouth enjoys this, my stomach is not always happy. I am not saying that I get sick, just that I think I need to build up a tolerance to street vendor food … it can be a little rough.

Being a downtown resident without a car limits my daytime mobility (I can mooch off my Sugar Momma at night and use her car), but I find myself stoned and hungry at noon more often than I like to admit. This means that the area around Sears has become like Mecca to me. I am not sure, but I think I counted 637 taco stands in the immediate vicinity. It has taken me a while to decide because they are all great, but one has come to stand out above the rest, Taqueria “El Paisa” on the southeast corner of 800 south and Main. You would think that spending all this time eating Mexican food I would have picked up a little Spanish. Being the shitty American that I am and possibly because of a slew of learning disabilities, I haven’t, so I will refer to all menu items by their English names. In a one week period I stopped by El Paisa at least three times, sometimes dragging a semiwilling friend and my wife along so I could sample their dish as well.

Look … even art fags eat beef tongue from taco carts!
Photo: David DeAustin

I usually stick to tacos when I hit up the street vendors and for the first round I stuck with it, ordering two: one with beef head, a slightly tough steak like meat, and one with roast chicken, surprisingly tender and well seasoned. The tacos are $1-1.50, depending on the meat selected, and are served with grilled onions and pinto beans on two lightly fried tortillas. There is a cooler full of salsas, cilantro, radishes, and fresh cut onions to choose from as toppings. Cheese is available by request. My wife asked for two tacos with no meat and the man at the cart happily, with a somewhat confused look on his face, obliged. For all you vegetarians out there, I am not sure if the beans, rice, or grilled onions are lard free. My wife just figures that in certain situations, it is a little rude to ask about how veggie friendly something is, but she’s not always a purist about these things. The food was fresh and tasted great.

On the second round, Valentine’s Day (I know, I am one romantic mother fucker) I dragged not just my wife, but also two of my buddies along. With no discussion before-hand, we all opted for burritos ($4 each). I tried the roast pork this time and had my burrito made with grilled onions, rice and cheese. The pork was a little tough and crisp, but was not overly salty and had just a hint of sweetness to it. My wife went veggie again, but wasn’t quite sure she liked the grilled onions in burrito form, and my buddies mirrored our selections. The third time around I ditched out of work early for some mid-day grubbing and tried two Vampiros (also $1-$1.50 ea), a cheese topped tortilla grilled until crispy and topped with my choice of meat. I went for one with roasted pork and a spicy and sweet chili sauce (probably my favorite of the bunch), and one with beef tongue, which tasted almost like roast beef, succulent and juicy. The cart also has a handful of other dishes, but seeing as it is in every way fast food, I always stick to the simple dishes and leave the more involved plates for restaurants, which brings me back to the beginning of this page––please send me some suggestions! I am a Mexican food nut and can easily be reached by email at worbon@slugmag.com.