There is no shortage of food trucks to choose from on the UIUC campus, and with the wide variety offered, there doesn't seem to be a need to venture out much further. I like the convenience of being within walking distance of a hot meal for those days when I’m rushing between classes, but I’ve also heard that the greater Champaign-Urbana area has some great food trucks of its own. I paid a visit to Tacos Locos, permanently parked in the El Progresso grocery store on Bloomington Road, to find out if it just might be worth the drive.
A friend and I trekked over there on a Friday afternoon. It took a bit of digging to find out when the truck was open as they don’t seem to have a website or social media presence. I wasn’t sure what the truck looked like, but we spotted it right away: bright red, flashy, and with Tacos Locos printed in big, bold letters on the side.
I was immediately impressed with the menu, and had a hard time deciding what I wanted. I ultimately went with a selection of tacos: asada (steak), pastor (spicy pork) and pollo (chicken). It came with a choice of garnish — either onion and cilantro or lettuce and tomato, and I choose the former. The tacos I chose were only $1.99 each, but the lengua (beef tongue) and tripa (tripe) tacos cost extra. My friend settled on one of the specialty items, nachos locos, with steak ($7.99).
Everything is made fresh right there, so it took a little bit of time for our food to be ready. This wasn’t a bad thing, as we were the only customers and there was a large picnic table located conveniently right by. We were going to eat our food at the table but the impending rain changed our minds, and we instead got it to go.
After being handed a hefty bag of delicious-smelling food, we were more than eager to race home and get to eating. I was pleased with the presentation of the tacos; they had plenty of meat and were adorned with big chunks of lime, cucumber and radishes. I could tell that the tortillas were homemade, and they served as a soft and delicious blanket for the very flavorful assortment of meats. The chicken taco was my favorite; the chicken was tender and juicy. The pastor had a nice spicy flavor; the steak was also great — sliced thin and well seasoned. The diced onions added a nice crunch, and the sliced cucumbers and radishes were refreshing. Unfortunately the red sauce that came with the dish was a little too spicy for me, so I used it sparingly and instead squeezed lime juice over my trio of tacos for an extra zest. The tacos were small, but three was enough to leave me satisfied, and the price was more than reasonable.
The Nachos Locos, while perhaps less aesthetically pleasing than the tacos, were just as filling and delicious. They were chock full of beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. They were also topped with jalapeños and some grated cheese. We decided that there was a good ratio of toppings to chips — essential for any nacho entrée. I found the white, melty cheese to be especially tasty; it was warm and a tad spicy. The refried beans were kind of hidden at the bottom, but there was an abundance of lettuce and tomatoes, ensuring that each bite was fully loaded with flavor.
Tacos Locos offers tasty, authentic Mexican food. The tacos are just as good as any sit down restaurant, without actually having to sit down and pay the price.
Tacos Locos is located at 1001 West Bloomington Road, Champaign, and is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
All photos by Carly Prais.