rodeoEl Rodeo

Synopsis:

Basic Mexican food: tacos ($1.50), burritos ($5.50), & combo plates for $6.50. I had four tacos, the al pastor, carnitas, chicken and fish, all ordered in Spanish without onions. When I started eating, it had onions all over it. Out of the four, the fish was marginally better. I still don’t personally understand the appeal of shredded meats.
Scores:

Time: It took about 10 minutes to get my tacos.

Value-3: Average prices, average size tacos, average all around.

Gut check at 3pm: I’m fine, but I also ran errands the rest of the day instead of working.

Sustainability-1: I see no consideration here. If you just get tacos, you can compost the paper, I guess.

Fear Factor-3: I’d say this is a normal fear factor here. It’s a taco truck, pure and simple.

Staying Power-3: Average. Not exciting, not terrible.

Creativity-2: I’m giving them a point for having a chile relleno, although that’s as creative as a child coloring outside the lines.

huongHuong’s

Synopsis:

Huong’s is an anchor of these carts. If it weren’t here forever, we might be afraid that we’d get sick. The pork in the pork over bun noodles ($6.50) was chewy and tasted a bit like fermented milk. The chicken in the chicken in tamarind sauce ($6.50) was dry, despite being heavily marinated in a thick, tangy tamarind sauce.
The best thing we had were the salad rolls ($3.50) with shrimp and pork and a great peanut-topped plum sauce. Compared to anything else, it would be average. I eyed the Banh Mi ($4), but since we were having an early lunch and I had a late breakfast, thought best of getting too much.

“The more I eat this, the less I like it.” We ended up eating half of the plates. We simply didn’t want anymore. I brought the remainders home to try to pawn off on my roommates. My partner wouldn’t touch them after a few bites.

In short, we won’t be back. The way we see it, if you’re offering something unappetizing, leave it off the menu. It’s distracting.

Scores:

Time: 13 minutes to get our order. Past experience dictated that it can be lengthy to get food here and it is advisable to call in your order.

Value-4

Gut check at 3pm: I don’t feel sick and neither does my eating partner. I’m full and working away happily. Since I ate half, I cannot ding them for the portion sizes by any means.

Sustainability-2: They use GoBox!, but that’s all I can tell. The meat seems feed-lot sourced at best.

Fear Factor-4: Dilapidated cart environs + dodgy meat makes an otherwise fear free experience scary. Well we spend the next day on the toilet? We’ll be nice and not update you on these matters.

Staying Power-4: I’ve heard legendary things about this place (the banh mi, I’m pretty sure). Maybe we got the wrong thing. But maybe sheer precedence keeps the doors open. I don’t know. But I really don’t think they’re going anywhere, despite our fairly poor eating experience.

Creativity-2: Standard Vietnamese faire, done, at least today, poorly. Noodles, pho, Asian standards (sans a deep fryer) and salad rolls. I wouldn’t want tripe or tendon from this place–it would probably rival steel in texture.

esanE-San

http://www.e-santhai.com/

Synopsis:

Thai carts are a dime a dozen so far. This was our third Thai cart on just this face of the block. Yet E-san’s offerings were head and shoulders above the rest.

While E-san offers the standard Thai fare, such as Pad Thai, Pad Si-ew, Panang Curry, fried rice, they do it so well it makes me feel like no one else really has any business making these dishes.

Everything on the menu is $7 or less. We went with the Panang with Chicken, hoped for the crab puffs ($4), but ended up with the salad rolls (vegetarian, $4) due to our early visit at 11:30 (the fryers weren’t up yet). We also order the Thai Sweet Sausage fried rice ($6).

Like with the other Thai carts, the portions were hefty: the Panang Curry came in a liter plastic container, and it was chock full of broth, fresh, not-scary chicken, green beans, kaffir lime leaf and a smattering of diced carrots and peas. We ordered it medium, and the spice level was just perfect. Similarly, the sausage was excellent as well–many Thai sausages have a bit of a funky, fermented flavor that can be off-putting; this was sweet instead and thinly sliced, reminiscent of a good linguiça. The ample portions of Thai basil, and again, spice made this an excellent lunch. The fresh salad rolls were standard and the peanut sauce that accompanied them could have been purchased at Trader Joe’s. Skip them unless you’re really jonesing for them.

Scores:
Time: 8 minutes: Although there was a line, even as early as we were, our food was doled out to us very quickly. That started our level of impressed

Value-5

Gut check at 3pm: I’m still full at 5pm, let alone 3pm! This was a hefty portion of food and the quality made it that much better.

Sustainability-0: They didn’t offer reusable containers, but I did spot a guy bringing his own Thai-style lunch container to be refilled. We had a pile of trash, most of it non-recyclable, including plastic forks, saran wrap, a plastic soup container, a plastic take-out container and a paper bag. Eek.

Fear Factor-1: The staff understood our order, the quality of the chicken made us feel that we were going to be able to go back to work without issues, and the quality and cleanliness of everything was top notch. There was nothing scary about this place. It was unquestionably good.

Staying Power-5: E-San has two brick-and-mortar locations already. Unlike with many of the other carts, they branched out from brick-and-mortar to carts. We should all be so lucky. If this place fails, there is no justice in the world, because it was one of the best cart meals we’ve had thus far.

Creativity-2: They’re not offering much here as far as non-standard fare. Crab puffs are a nice addition to the menu, and their patented awesome Mango Curry was on the menu, although we didn’t get it today. I’ve had it at their Ash St. location several times, and it’s a favorite.

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