Location: SW 3rd and Stark
Hours: Weekdays, lunch
The Story: Elloy Martin makes an amazing panucho. Simple, satisfying and oh, so flavorful. Elloy Martin has been making Mexican street food magic in his cart El Taco Yucateco for a couple of years and now comes to serve the downtown eaters.
I first met Elloy a year or so ago when he was at Green Castle. I made the mistake of assuming his cart was the same as a similar named vendor out east. Lucky for me, it wasn’t a huge error as it was his brother’s cart I had visited. After some ups and downs at Green Castle, Elloy moved the cart downtown this year and opened up on SW Stark between 2nd and 3rd. The menu at the cart is what you would expect from most Mexican vendors – tacos, burritos, quesadillas and tortas. All fresh, made to order with pride. What stands out here are the panuchos, a special type of taco. Elloy has to go as far as Sandy to source his special masa paste for the tortillas. A panucho is different than a taco and served open face like a tostada. He makes a tortilla then quickly fries it, puffing it up. Elloy then pulls it out, slices it open and stuffs it with black bean paste. Back in the pan to finish up, he then tops it with lettuce, cabbage, shredded and seasoned chicken, pickled red onion, tomato and avocado. A panucho, done right, is one of those dishes you don’t want to eat – so beautiful. If I could, I would take it somewhere so they could preserve it for all time. Each bite is a treat from the avocado mixing with the marinated onion and the creamy beans. The tortilla isn’t hard, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking up in your hand. A couple of panuchos and a Jarochita on a sunny day is all this boy needs to make him smile.
While waiting for my order, a few other patrons came along for burritos. One woman came up proclaiming that the cart “had the best taco salad in town.” I’ll have to try that next. Elloy is one of those vendors who smiles and engages his customers whether he’s busy or not and I enjoyed chatting with him about Mexican street food. Makes me want to take a trip. Drop on by El Taco Yucateco next time you have a craving for something new. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Panuchos – $2
- Tacos – beef, chicken, cactus – $1.50
- Quesadilla- $3, add beef or chicken for $1
- Tamale – $3
- Taco Salad – beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, your choice of meat – $7
- Burritos – $5
- Tortas – $5
Phone: (503) 901-0768
Facebook: El Taco Yucateco