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Mary Pols

Mary Pols is a staff writer for the Portland Press Herald.

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Posted: May 25, 2016

Taco the Town truck in Brunswick gets Mexican street food right

Written by: Mary Pols
A line forms at the Taco the Town food truck in Brunswick during the lunch rush earlier this week.

A line forms at the Taco the Town food truck in Brunswick during the lunch rush earlier this week. Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff photographer

A Bowdoin professor walks past the growing line at Taco the Town, Tai Choo’s new food truck parked at the Mall in downtown Brunswick. He’s loaded down with to-go containers. Some younger colleagues at the end of a line 15-people deep want to know how the truck’s food is and what they should order. The professor doesn’t know yet.

“He’s got California experience. That is what I am excited about,” he tells them, referring to Choo.

Everybody wants some of what Choo is making, that’s for sure. A new food truck in town is news, especially one selling something more authentic than Mainers are used to. Choo, a native of Sacramento, worked at Blueberries in Topsham until November and while there, developed a following for his Mexican-inspired breakfasts (and burritos).

The man in front of me has already been to Taco the Town once. While we’re waiting, he’s greeted by a friend who has just come from a Brunswick’s stalwart: Danny’s hot dog stand. That guy had ordered, received his Danny’s burger and hot dog and eaten it all in the time we’ve been in Taco the Town line. But my companion in line says the wait is worth it.

Plus it’s spring in Brunswick. Girls in short shorts are walking down the sidewalk and bikes have suddenly appeared, albeit adorned with winter’s cobwebs. People are sprawled on the bright green grass of May. We all want to be outside.

Studying the back of the truck, I decide I’ll take three tacos to get a representative sample, one Al Pastor (with pork marinated in pineapple), a Pollo Asado (charbroiled chicken) and a Pescado Ensenada (with haddock, cabbage, pico de gallo and crema). When I get to the window, I add on an iced Wicked Joe coffee and the total comes to $12.25, which frankly feels like a deal.

I might have waited a while in the line, but not five minutes after I’d placed my order, there was my to-go container, filled with three steaming, stuffed tacos. I found a park bench and bit my way around the pile.

During his California upbringing, Choo clearly paid attention to his grandmother’s cooking (Nana Sarah, whose name is on the Mexican rice in the burritos) and his father’s (Papa Gilbert’s pork). If I closed my eyes, I could almost be on a street corner in Oakland, perched on some rickety folding chair instead of a sturdy bench on a New England green. The salsas were right, the flavors were deep and all of it seemed very fresh.

The Pescado ($4.25) was my favorite, but that is often the case. I take a Calvin Trillin-like approach to fish tacos, believing that the quest for the perfect one is both a duty and a joy. The Al Pastor ($3.25) was rich with the taste of ancho chiles, the sweetness of pineapple and the roasted tomatillo salsa. There were a few pieces of fat in the pork, but that’s authentic. The chicken ($3.25) was the simplest and probably best suited for anyone unacquainted with tacos that don’t involve ground beef and crunchy shells. Each taco comes on two soft shells, typical of California, and handy when the tacos are this packed with ingredients.

Other tacos I could have ordered: the sweet potato and the Carne Con Chipotle. Other items I could have tried: burritos of all flavors, complete with that rice of Nana Sarah’s; quesadillas; 8-ounce rice and bean mix ($2.50); or a large guacomole ($2.75). I’ll definitely branch out on a return visit. Of which there will be many. So many.

The fish taco from Taco the Town food truck. The fish taco from Taco the Town food truck. Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

The fish taco from Taco the Town food truck.  Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

TACO THE TOWN

WHERE: 205 Maine St., Brunswick; 632-4740; facebook.com/tacothetown1

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

WAIT: Long lines but once ordered about 5 minutes

PARKING: On street

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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