Photos by Robb Walsh

Kick Ass Barbacoa

El Mapache III is the name of the shiny new taco truck at the corner of Renwick and Gulfton in the parking lot of the Bestop gas station and convenience store. El Mapache means "the raccoon." It's also a nickname for a bandit, an allusion to the animal's black mask. (I wonder what happened to El Mapache I and II? )

This truck does some serious business. When I stopped by early in the morning, they were cooking up a mountain of meat. And no wonder they are so popular--the Bestop convenience store attractively decorates their parking lot with potted palms, giving the El Mapache III dining area a festive ambiance.

The two guys eating at the stand-up counter recommended the fajita tacos. So I tried one of those along with a taco al carbon and a barbacoa taco--all with onions and cilantro. The pork in the pastor tacos was orange-colored, but the seasoning was bland. The fajita tacos were okay, if a little skimpy on the meat. The barbacoa taco was by far the best --a huge mound of hot cheek meat nicely shredded and very moist. I was offered my choice of flour or corn tortillas, which is pretty unusual. I went for corn. The salsa was a thick and creamy green concoction and it packed a major kick. The truck also sells roast chickens and the beans are free on the weekend.

The proprietors angrily refused to let me take their photos. In fact, they were pretty upset about me taking snapshots of my tacos. They demanded to know who I was. And as they seemed to be getting ready to kick my ass, I gave them my business card. I prefer to stay anonymous, but I also like to stay out of the hospital. They studied the card, but evidently they'd never heard of the Houston Press, and my name didn't ring a bell either. I think they were relieved when they figured out I wasn't working for the Health Department. -- Robb Walsh

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