Once upon a time, around one year ago, strange happenings were cited by the denizens of Taos in the vacant lot north of Cid’s. Necks were craned and eyeballs popped as the people of the town drove past the site, whizzing to and fro on their daily grind. What was happening? A dusty trailer was placed smack dab in the middle of the lot and left to bake in the sun. There were rumors of it being a restaurant. Every now and again idle thoughts floated the trailer’s way as folks looked right before pulling out of Cid’s to go home and make dinner.
And then one day there came a sign. It was specific, it was yellow, and it read A LA CARTE: World Street Food. Underneath these words was a nifty and intriguing promise — Express Takeout!
A food cart in Taos that doesn’t serve tacos? Well, yes, they do in fact serve tacos, but that’s not all they serve. A food cart in Taos with express drive-thru service? A food cart in Taos with a beautiful shaded tomato-lined dining patio that’s not made out of lattice work fencing?
I live on the northside and have to drive by this fantastic little gem of a food stand almost everyday. It’s taken me an entire year to get there and let me tell you, I feel shame for not having stopped by sooner.
I corralled my friends Scott and Rich — please note photo exhibits A and B, respectively — into dining with me so I could order more food than I could ever possibly eat myself and get to taste it all.
When we drove in, my first pleasant surprise was that they have an entire shaded parking lot in the back. We walked up to the window and Louise, who was furiously cooking during the lunch rush, gave us a smile and said hello through the drive-thru window.
The menu is simple, hand-written on chalk boards attached to the sides of the truck, and divvied up into three approachable sections: Sandwiches, Salads, & World Street Food. After rolling my slavering tongue and taste buds back into my mouth, I noticed the prices. Not a single item on the menu over $10. In fact, most of them are $7.50! Holy affordable, Batman — that’s what I’m talking about!
We ordered three dishes, all heaping portions.The Moroccan: a grilled beef-gyro-style pita with sauteed peppers and onions slathered in a mint yogurt sauce: $7.75 The Indo: grilled chicken served over rice smothered in a very decadent creamy peanut sauce with a fresh chickpea, tender mixed greens, cucumber, and tomato salad on the side: $7.75. And pulled pork tacos, three mountainous corn tortillas dripping with juicy pork topped with a sweet and tangy pineapple salsa with fresh crunchy coleslaw on the side: $7.50.
A LA CARTE is owned by Louise, who has one employee, Lisa. I got to chat with both of them briefly, which was very kind considering I was asking them questions during the middle of a very busy lunch hour. Louise, who does all the cooking, has owned a couple of larger restaurants throughout her career. When I asked her why a food truck, she chuckled and said it’s so much easier than running a full-scale restaurant. She said the current location took her over a year to secure, during which time she decided if she couldn’t use this property she wouldn’t be starting a food cart in Taos — lucky for us, she got it!
Lisa mans the register, takes the orders, and delivers service with a quiet smile. She told me I could quote her as saying that “after all these years working restaurants, she has finally found an owner that isn’t an alcoholic or a maniac!” That’s one happy employee.
A LA CARTE also serves breakfast, with one notable exception: no breakfast burrito. (Of course, if that’s what you want, there are plenty of other places to go.)
They are open Monday through Friday, 9am-2:30pm, and are cash or check only.
There’s not much left to say except a delighted personal note: as a girl who always seems to be searching for a freshly brewed frosty glass of good strong iced-tea with lemon, A LA CARTE’s sun tea is where it’s at!