Restaurant review: La Poblanita taco truck

G.A. Benton

The best Mexican food in Clintonville comes from Taqueria La Poblanita, a taco truck that's been serving the neighborhood for about two years. Even if you're already familiar with this friendly mobile restaurant and its crave-inducing food, are you aware that La Poblanita has undergone a few changes recently?

Foremost among these is location. After making a name for itself while setting up shop across the street from Marzetti's (T. Marzetti Co.) just south of Cooke Road on Indianola Avenue, the truck moved farther north in May. Update: As of last week, the family-run eatery had moved back to its previous spot across from Marzetti's.

Another notable change is cosmetic but also dramatic: La Poblanita, which began cooking in a little yellow trailer before moving into a larger vehicle with a drab yellow-and-white paint job, is being transformed through a jaw-dropping mural.

The expansive and fanciful new artwork incorporates impressive portraits of Frida Kahlo, Marilyn Monroe and Vicente Fernandez (an iconic Mexican mariachi singer) against an inspired backdrop of what looks like the Mexican and American flags fusing together.

Fortunately, what hasn't changed is La Poblanita's strongly executed menu of tacos, tortas, quesadillas, burritos and more. Everything I tried was a bargain, such as the $2 tacos available both “Mexican”-style — in warm, soft corn tortillas with onion and cilantro — and “American”-style, with Taco Bell-type garnishes.

I was told carne asada was the truck's most popular taco meat, and after ripping into La Poblanita's grilled and chopped beef, I became a believer. But I was equally fond of the zesty stewed chicken tinga and the lusty chorizo tacos. Even the relatively simple pollo tacos (chopped chicken) are juicy and flavorful.

And the terrific Tamales ($1.50) are among the very best in town. Unlike others with flimsy fillings and over-cooked shells, these are uncommonly supple, handmade masa tubes generously packed with stewed chicken ignited by a spicy salsa verde. Note: Tamales are a Friday- and Saturday-only special.

Keep an eye out for other daily specials, too, such as the chile relleno entree ($10) I enjoyed a couple of weekends ago. The somewhat oily but made-right chile — a puffy, properly eggy batter encasing a roasted, seeded poblano pepper jammed with molten cheese — came with creamy refried beans and first-rate Mexican rice. Like all items I sampled here, the meal outpaced what you generally get in most local, full-service Mexican restaurants.