Friday, February 3, 2012

El Charrito Caminante

When we raved about the tacos at Taqueria Poblano, a kindly reader from chowDC pointed us in the direction of El Charrito Caminante. El Charrito is located in a little strip mall in that part of Arlington that is sort of near Clarendon, sort of near Courthouse, and sort of near Fort Meyer. Since Arlingtonians like to make mashed-up names for their neighborhoods (see, e.g., Arlandria), I'm going to call it Clarecourtmeyer.

If you want table service, margaritas, and balloon animals, go to Lauriol Plaza. If you want super cheap, very authentic Mexican tacos, go to El Charrito.

The restaurant consists of a small counter with a half dozen stools. While we ate on stools about two feet from the cash register, we watched a steady stream of Clarecourtmeyerians ordering takeout.

The menu consists of mostly tacos and pupusas with a few burritos thrown in for the gringos. I ordered two beef tacos and a horchata (a dreamy, creamy cinnamon rice milk beverage of wonder). B tried a combination consisting of a pupusa, a beef and a chicken taco, with rice and beans all washed down with a Jarritos Mandarin soda.

If the tacos at Taqueria Poblano are authentic LA street food tacos, the tacos at El Charrito are authentic Mexico street food tacos. They have the chewy double corn tortillas and the requisite onions and cilantro. No cheese, no sour cream, no guacamole. Just simple and very tasty taco goodness . . . all for a whopping $2! And if you like goat or lengua (tongue) tacos, El Charrito can hook you up.

While I thought the beef taco was a little skimpy on the beef, for $2 I'm not complaining too loudly. B's pupusa was served piping hot with melty cheese oozing out of the pillowy dough blanket.

We exited El Charrito full and happy for about $12. With comparable tacos at Taqueria Distrito Federal closer to home, we may not schlep all the way to Clarecourtmeyer for tacos. But, if we're in the neighborhood (probably on our way to REI) we won't hesitate to stop in for the cheap eats.

Thank you chowDC for the tip! Anyone else have a must-try taco place? I promise we'll go if it is in reasonable driving distance.

Second Thoughts from B

It is fun to work with J on this blog because on our food posts she's happy to do the play by play allowing me to provide the color commentary. I don't know how colorful I am but I do like telling stories...

Growing up in Southern California, I spent many summers across the Mexican boarder building houses for the poor. To be clear, we're talking Bear Grylls-quality construction and not Bob Villa. These trips allowed me ample time to immerse myself in the most humble Mexican food and culture.

Trips like these always reminded me of how much could be made out of so little. Those dusty taco stands always surpassed the fancy kitchens and formal training of high-end Mexican restaurants back home. I think that's why I've so enjoyed the current food revolution that has moved us towards simple, local, and traditional preparations.

El Charrito isn't a fad. It isn't trying to be simple, local, and traditional. It IS all of those things. The real deal... the real good deal.
El Charrito Caminante on Urbanspoon

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