Charles Goodnight originally invented the chuck wagon to feed cowboys during a cattle drive between Texas and New Mexico, so it is only fitting that the chuck wagon’s modern-day descendants have rolled into Santa Fe dispensing gourmet food. These are six of Santa Fe’s best food trucks:
Bang Bite has turned a nondescript gravel parking lot across from New Mexico’s state capitol into *the* place to do lunch. The Bite Burger is massive, but its heft isn’t an excuse to skimp on taste or texture. Avocado provides a cooling counterbalance to the surge of heat from a blend of five types of roasted chiles. And forget about limp, fast-food bacon. These rashers are smoked and crunchy. It’s an engineering miracle that an un-toasted, soft bun is capable of bearing such a thick patty, complete with toppings. That said, perhaps Bang Bite’s biggest achievement is the fries that, in their skins-on seasoned glory, are addictive enough to fill a rehab facility.
Price: $8.75 for the burger, $3 for trailer fries
Seating: About six picnic tables
Location: In a parking lot at the intersection of Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta (opposite the Roundhouse)
The soundtrack of this truck is a constantly ringing phone, as a stream of nine-to-fivers call in orders. Waits can last as long as twenty minutes at lunch but, for the control freak gourmand, it’s worth it. The menu is customizable, enabling you to pair your choice of meat with virtually any dish. Try taking the fully loaded chicken nachos for a test drive. A light marinade leaves the meat moist, while a cilantro sauce douses the spice that comes from chunky discs of jalapeño.
Price: $6 for the chicken nachos
Seating: None, but the smell of tires wafting from the neighboring auto shop makes dining nearby unappealing anyway!
Location: In a lot in front of 4033 Cerrillos Road (cross street Apache Avenue)
For drop-off-the-bone pork, you can’t beat the ribs at Santa Fe BBQ. The meat is expertly trimmed, resulting in lean ribs that are then marinated and cooked over wood chips — some days fruit wood, other days hickory. A selection of sauces lets you decide on your BBQ style. Choose the hickory brown sugar for a sauce with the faintest memory of heat and a sweet taste without being cloying. Alternatively, jumpstart your taste buds with the chile-laden Santa Fe barbecue sauce.
Tip: Go early. The Meat Man sells out fast!
Price: $13 a half slab of pork ribs
Location: Usually 600 Old Santa Fe Trail, but the truck is only there a few days a week. Check Santa Fe BBQ’s website for the schedule.
An energizing burst of cilantro suffuses the air whenever this truck’s window slides open. La Fogata serves up a limited menu of traditional meats, such as tongue and tripe. But you can’t go wrong with the ham torta. It may be the bulky, less sophisticated cousin of a croque monsieur, but this sandwich explodes with flavor. The salt from the thick-cut ham is smoothed out by a generous layer of avocado. And the fluffy bread is fried just enough to give it the structural integrity to support the generous portions of cheese, ham, and veggies.
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Price: $6 for the ham torta
Location: In front of 1242 Siler Road, in the parking lot (cross street Siler Lane)
Santa Fe may be many states away from Philadelphia, but you can still score an authentic cheesesteak in the high desert. Try the Original Bambini’s cheesesteak; its beef is marinated to add a smoky quality and has a mild bite from the black pepper. Add the tangy cheddar sauce for a juicy, if messy, meal. For a twist on the classic, consider ordering The Greek Steak, which comes with a refreshing cucumber garlic tzatziki sauce and an abundance of veggies.
Price: $8.79 for the Original
Seating: A few tables with umbrellas
Location: Parked next to 905 S. St. Francis Drive (cross street Cerrillos Road)
“Jewelry! Musical instruments! Guns!” read signs emblazoned across the windows of a neighboring pawn shop. Taqueria del Pueblo’s location won’t be accused of charm any time soon, so ask for the el pastor taco plate to go. El pastor is spit-grilled pork, marinated with chiles and pineapple, which gives the pork an appropriate flame color. The meat arrives inside gently pressed flour tacos, which bridge the gap between soft and crispy. A sprinkle of cilantro and chopped pineapple complete the dish. The plate is unexpectedly accompanied by a whole, roasted poblano pepper, while other sides include paprika-saturated Spanish rice, refried beans, and a thin, chile sauce to fan the flames if needed.
Price: $6 for the el pastor taco plate
Seating: Barely – one camping table
Location: In a parking lot outside 3668 Cerrillos Road