100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes 2014-15: No. 85, Tacos at Taqueria Maya Quiché

Once again, Kaitlin Steinberg is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes as we work our way toward our annual Menu of Menus® issue and culinary extravaganza. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most delicious, most creative and, of course, most indicative of our ever-changing food scene. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that are uniquely Houstonian.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Well, friends, I have a problem. A taco problem. More specifically, a taco truck problem.

You see, I can't stop eating at taco trucks. I pull over any time I see a new one I haven't tried. I seek them out in the far corners of Houston. I compare barbacoa from one truck to the next and rejoice at the prospect of ridiculously hot homemade salsa. I'm sort of obsessed.

I recently discovered a taco truck that pulls out outside of the Midtown rooftop bar Proof several nights a week (Never mind what I was doing at Proof. It was a social experiment. I was forced. Someone dragged me.), and judging by the crowd at the bar, I expected the tacos to be the culinary equivalent of a well vodka soda with a splash of cranberry.

Starving from a night of live fashion commentary on the rooftop, I decided to hit up the truck on my way home. Since then, I've been determined to track it down at least once a week, whether it's parked outside of Kung Fu Saloon on Washington or up on the roof in Midtown. Any time I see that bright red truck, I make sure I stop for a taco.

A good taco is measured by a number of criteria. The tortilla, the meat, the toppings, the salsa. All must come together in perfect harmony for a taco to achieve its maximum potential. At Taqueria Mays Quiché, that's exactly what happens.

The thin corn tortillas are light yellow with a few brown spots that show they've been warmed prior to being filled. Each taco is wrapped in two tortillas, because a single one isn't substantial enough to hold all the fixings within. For the tacos, you can choose from a variety of meats--barbacoa, pork al pastor, beef fajitas, chicken, lengua or the special fish, which costs a little extra. I tend to stick with the tacos al pastor and fish tacos, though I've tried them all, and all are great.

The pork prepared al pastor style is marinated in spices and tangy pineapple juice, which breaks down the enzymes in the meat making it tender. It's served with a simple topping of diced onions and cilantro that looks as if it's been plucked fresh from the ground. The fish taco comes with lightly breaded tilapia, shredded jack cheese, sliced avocados and the same onion and cilantro mix as the al pastor taco.

What really pushes these tacos over the edge from good to great, though, are the homemade salsas you can drizzle on top. You have to request them, but the smoky red sauce and cool but sinus-singeing green sauce are in a league all their own.

And lest the name of the truck--Taqueria Maya Quiché--confuses you, allow me to shed some light. No, there are no quiches on board. The K'iche' or Quiché people are a Maya ethnic group whose descendants still populate the highlands of Guatemala. So now you know.

The list so far: No. 86, S'mores at 13 Celsius No. 87, Calamari at Lillo & Ella No. 88, Pulled Pork Nachos at Way Good Food Truck No. 89, Garden Sammie at Local Foods No. 90, Barbecued Salmon Salad at Brooks Family BBQ No. 91, Smoked Salmon Waffle at The Waffle Bus No. 92, Chirashi Lunch at Sushi Miyagi No. 93, Finocchiona Sandwich at Siphon Coffee No. 94, Combo Catracho at Mi Bella Honduras Restaurant No. 95, Tamal de Puerco at Andes Cafe No. 96, Cheeseburger at Sparkle's Hamburger Spot No. 97, Mi Quang at Simply Pho No. 98, Helado de Lúcuma at Pollo Bravo No. 99, Fat Fries at Fat Bao No. 100, Fish Bánh Mì at La Baguette

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Kaitlin Steinberg