I was in Spokane, Washington on business travel this week spending some time in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It was a part of the country I had only driven through on my way from Portland, Oregon to Michigan for college back in 1994 and again in 1995 when I made the same trip, but this time with my fiancé, now wife Stephanie, as we moved to Detroit after her being “tired of the rain” in Portland after one year living there after college.
Back then I didn’t have a gas station taco blog or any blog, because well blogging hadn’t been invented yet; even though, I did have an AOL account and used Usenet groups to trade Sting/Police bootlegs with other fans. So here I was in Spokane heading to the airport with a good hour to kill. I did my typical Google search ” gas station tacos” and ” gas station mexican food.”
I was having zero luck with any results. Surprise, surprise. I was however finding tons of drive-thru gourmet coffee stands in gas station parking lots. I suppose if I lived here I’d have a blog called “Gas Station Cafes.”
One result did show up for a place called The Service Station that had some positive reviews on Yelp and had a mention in the comments about a Chicken Enchilada Soup someone had. Having no other leads, I decided to head over to this place. As I arrived I came to a big building with a full blown restaurant and no gas station pumps. Disappointment.
Fortunately, on my way to the airport I noticed a taco truck located behind an Exxon gas station. Now technically this does not qualify as a “Gas Station Taco” place since it is not part of the gas station, but hey this is Spokane, Washington, not Texas. This was the closest I was going to get to a gas station taco.
Taco trucks, or rather food trucks are all the rage right now. The food truck crowd is rich with options. Personally, I find this silly. I used to go to taco trucks when I lived in Los Angeles back in the late 80s and early 90s for street tacos after a night out (the yellow taco truck on Fair Oaks avenue and California Blvd in Pasadena is where my love of ‘street tacos’ all originated.) Now all the hipsters and foodie wannabes think they found something cool. Yeah, been there did that 20 years ago, but here I was in Spokane at a taco truck.
I parked my car on a side street next to Taqueria Fiesta Bravo approached the truck and it was empty. I looked around noticing the neon open sign was still lit and a dog proceeded to bark at the home behind the taco truck. Eventually, someone came around the corner surprised to see me.
I ordered four tacos. Two beef fajita and two al pastor (marinated pork) tacos on corn tortillas with cilantro and onion.
What I received were four street tacos just as I have many times in Dallas. The container had a few juicy lime wedges along with some red hot sauce and a mild green sauce.
The al pastor tacos had some fatty cuts of meat, but thankfully all of the tacos were stuffed plentifully with meat; though, not with a lot of onion or cilantro. I pulled a couple fatty pieces of pork out and noticed some nice chunks of pineapple in the al pastor tacos. I love the addition of pineapple and this led to a decent taco since the marinated pork lacked some of the richness of other gas station tacos I have had recently. Even with a more subtle flavor, the al pastor tacos were a nice surprise in Spokane.
Next up I tried the beef fajita taco with some red hot sauce. The red hot sauce had a solid punch to it and really gave the taco some flavor since the fajita meat didn’t seem to have any marinade or spice to it. The meat was also a bit fatty, but again with a generous helping of meat in each taco the removal of a few fatty pieces didn’t really matter in the end. Also the double corn tortillas for each taco helped maintain the integrity of the taco since it was a lot to hold in the tortillas.
Overall I’d say for Spokane, Washington Taqueria Fiesta Bravo deserves 4 out of 5 oil drops, but looking outside of the local constraints, the truck deserves 1 or even 2 less stars. This is mainly due to the weak flavoring of both meats I tried. Maybe some of the other menu choices are better.
So if you are willing to walk just a few steps behind the Exxon station over to a small, very clean taco truck, you can get some street tacos in an unlikely place in Washington. Let’s hope Taqueria Fiesta Bravo some day talks to the Exxon station into opening a restaurant inside the gas station just in case the food truck trend fades, as we all know it will, and the hipsters move on to the next food fad.
Gas Station: Exxon (technically behind it and not associated with the gas station)
Rating (2 out of 5 oil drops*):