To bring the food truck project to a close (for now, I’ll probably try to hit a couple more here and there as time permits) I’ll try something that you just don’t see a lot of around here: Native American food.
- Food Truck: Off the Rez
- Cuisine: Native American
- Website: http://www.offthereztruck.com/
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Off-The-Rez/222926891074111
- Twitter: @OffTheRezTruck
- Yelp: 4 stars, 24 reviews
- Location: Harrison Street between Boren and Fairview
- Days: Wednesdays
- Payment Methods: Cash, cards
- Sales Tax included in menu prices: Yes
- Indian taco, Chicken Chile Verde: $4.00
- Naked frybread: $2.00
- Total (with tip): $7.00
- Time to order and pay: About 5 minutes
- Time to receive food after ordering: About 4 minutes
Over the course of human history, it seems that just about every culture has at one point or another gotten the idea of taking some sort of dough and frying it in oil. In the case of the various Native American tribes, it was largely out of necessity, as they worked with whatever they happened to have on hand (which, after the tribes were moved by the US government on to the reservations, was mostly government-provided flour, sugar, salt and lard.) Although the ingredients are similar, there are almost as many different variations on frybread as there are tribes (this site contains an extensive list of these.) From my childhood in Los Alamos, I recall frybread being served mostly at special events like the County Fair or the annual rodeo. This frybread, presumably influenced primarily by the various Pueblos found in the area surrounding Los Alamos and Santa Fe, would usually be served either with butter and sugar similar to how an Elephant Ear would be served, or in the form of an Indian Taco, which basically involves putting the type of toppings you’d expect to find on a taco on top of frybread. Tasty, but most Indian Tacos (at least they way they were served back in Los Alamos) could be serious contenders for some sort of “Messiest Food Ever” award..
Until I found this particular truck, it had been years since I have had frybread at all, so I thought this truck would be a good chance to reacquaint myself with it. The menu here provides four different options for Indian Tacos, plus a number of options for sweet toppings to put on the frybread by itself, as well as Succotash, chili (which happens to be the same stuff that’s used as the primary topping on the beef Indian Taco,) and some sort of a burger (presumably to give the Gringos something they’ll actually recognize on the menu.) There were a few people in line in front of me, but things moved fairly quickly. I did have to wait a bit for the food after ordering, but not excessively long. Having already tried both the beef and the chicken tacos on a previous visit, I found at the time that I preferred the chicken, so I ordered that (I haven’t tried the pork yet, but I’m not big on the whole pulled pork thing right now after some of the other trucks I’ve been to over the last couple of weeks.) In order to try out the frybread by itself, I ordered one naked as well, with no toppings added.
Based on previous visits to this stand I knew that one taco should be plenty to make a lunch out of, and two is bordering on too much food (but if you are so inclined, there are a couple of different 2-taco combos on the menu, as well as a 3-taco combo that’s bordering on just plain overkill.) A good portion of the chicken (which is simmered in a chile verde sauce) is placed on top of the taco and topped with cheese, lettuce, a few pickled onions (had to look at the website to figure that part out) and a cumin crema sauce to top it all off. As often seems to be the case with Indian tacos, if you tried to eat it by hand you’d most likely find yourself making a big mess, so a knife and fork seems to be the way to go here. As you might expect, the chicken is the star of the show here, with a good flavor and just a little bit of spice to assert its presence. Based on trying the beef taco previously I do have to say that if felt a little bit heavier overall, mostly because of the chili.
As for the frybread by itself, it seemed to be mostly pretty good, although I will note that it seemed like it could have used just a little bit longer cook time, as it seemed just the slightest bit doughy in the middle. Even so, once I took it back to my desk and applied some honey that I keep in my desk drawer (for various breakfast purposes) it was quite good, although at the same time it did make me kind of wish we has someone around here in the Seattle area making proper Sopaipillas the way you get them down in the Southwestern United States. It’s not exactly native food, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if Off the Rez decided to branch out a bit. In the meantime, they’ve got some pretty good stuff that you’re not likely to find around here unless you happen to make a trip out to one of the reservations.