Tucked behind the bright lights of the new casino that now dominates both the economic and physical landscape of Columbus’s west side, sits one of the best eateries in the city. Los Guachos Taqueria resides in the parking lot of Club La Boom, located just far enough off Sullivant Avenue that it’s easy to miss. But a short drive down Commerce Square will reveal the shiny metal exterior and bold, stamped metal sign of this nationally acclaimed taco truck, and visitors are immediately rewarded with the sweet aroma of al pastor wafting through the summer air.
For the uninitiated, al pastor is marinated pork that’s slow roasted on a vertical, rotating spit (in the tradition of shawarma). The spitted pork is known as the trompo and atop it sits a pineapple. As the meat cooks, juices from pineapple drip down onto the trompo, basting the pork and mingling with the marinade and heat to foster the formation of a delicious crust on the outermost layer of the meat. (Columbus Food Adventures has an insightful, behind-the-scenes post on the trompo here.) Upon order, a machete is used to skillfully shave off layers of the trompo, depositing slices of moist pork encrusted with concentrated, caramelized flavor onto corn tortillas and topped with a sliver of the roasted pineapple from above. The al pastor is served in the “Mexican street taco” style, dressed with onions and cilantro.
If you prefer an alternative to the al pastor, Los Guachos offers sausage (chorizo), chicken (pollo), and several beef options including steak (asada), tongue (lengua), tripe (tripa), and brisket (suadero). Most of the meats can be made into tacos, tortas (sandwich), burritos, or quesadillas. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the gringa, which is another favorite of loyal Los Guachos patrons. Served on a larger flour tortilla, the gringa is similar to the taco al pastor with the notable addition of cheese. Think of it as a cross between a Mexican street taco and a quesadilla, served open-face.
Los Guachos has a diverse selection of fresh and pickled condiments to top and/or accompany your order. These include the requisite green and red sauces—the red is hotter, but the milder green sauce is a nice complement to the al pastor as it doesn’t overpower its flavor—as well as cucumbers, radishes, and lime slices. For those who want a little heat (and by little, I mean a lot), try the pickled onions and habeñero mix. Located in bowls on the ledge of the truck, any of these condiments offer a bright accent to the rich pork.
In stark contrast to its backdrop of the new casino, the diminutive trailer of Los Guachos sits in a run-down area of West Columbus. Those willing to make the extra effort to find this taco truck are not only rewarded with the best al pastor in the city, but a delicious meal for under $5 (a taco al pastor is $1.50). Since its inception, Los Guachos has expanded to include a storefront restaurant in the city’s Northwest side at 5221 Godown Road, as well as an upcoming location in Gahanna. While all feature the same, delicious al pastor, I highly recommend visiting the original truck location to get the full Los Guachos experience.