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La Preferida, Taco Truck on New Hampshire Avenue at the Sunoco, Just North of the DC Line


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I went to a trapeze show up in baltimore that had some free snacks like homemade hummus and my own homemade carmelized onion dip but afterwards I was feeling hungry so I hit up the taco Truck near the corner of New Hampshire and East West Highway. I had a fun time ordering food from them since I don't speak much spanish and they didn't speak much english but I tried the Pupusa de Loroco having no clue what a loroco is (turns out it's a vine like flower plant, tasted a bit like spinach) and that came with salsa and coleslaw. A total steal for 1.50

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Now, this was a place I had spotted on a drive back from College Park, MD - the home not only of the Terps, but of Ikea as well. Located in a parking lot at the intersection of New Hampshire and E-W Highway, or Routes 410 and 650 in Takoma Park, it's easy to miss, but keep your eyes open and there she is...

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Yes, La Preferida, womanned by two lovely ladies from El Salvador, was no doubt the find of the day. Since pupusas originally hailed from El Salvador, we ordered two pupusas revueltas, stuffed with pork, cheese and refried beans, along with two tacos de lengua, or tongue tacos. So we come full circle, as these two Jewish kids from Long Island are tongue lovers from way back - though I think my mom used to cook her calve's tongue in the de-flavorizer, and certainly didn't serve it on a taco, she started a life-long love of mine for one of the great organ meats.

And we watched as one of the ladies took a handful of masa and shaped and stuffed the pupusas delicately and with purpose. Onto the griddle to cook, Danny and I waited patiently for this not-so-fast food. It was worth the wait, as we drove away to find a shady spot (on Elm Street, no less) where we could enjoy the food. The pupusas were great, a little greasy, a little crispy around the edges, and meltingly tender. Like a great pizza, the cheese, pork and dough come together in each bite, even going so far as to burn the roof of my mouth.

And the tacos. Oooh, the tacos. Bursting with perfectly stewed tongue, topped with freshly chopped tomatoes, avocado slices, shredded queso fresco and served with a piece of lime and a bit of a green chili salsa hot enough to melt the floorboards of my Camry, these were better than any tacos I've had on the east coast. Though I don't think tacos are native to El Sal, these ladies sure know how to cook 'em. And I know I'll be stopping at this place as often as I can on my trips into and out of the district. Take a gander at these:

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Per Weinoo's review, I checked out La Preferida today. I ordered the same items he did because I, too, love tacos de lengua and pupusas. The pupusas were OK, but the curtido was dryish with no taste of vinegar and absolutely no heat; the red sauce accompaniment was tasteless. Irene's pupusas are much better.

The tacos, however, were terrific. You get about 3-4 fajita-size strips of lengua, instead of the usual 1-2 tbs of diced lengua. The corn tortilla underpinning was a little unusual. This version was made fresh with what seems to be the same masa mix as the pupusas, so that when you picked it up, the bottom split in half and it was a real struggle to hold the taco together as you ate it. Nevertheless, these are the best tacos I've ever had and waaaay better than those at El Charrito Caminante.

I wanted to try the tamales too, since there were two kinds I had never seen before, but they did not have any tamales today. I'll have to return sometime to check those out. The truck serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is open from 8a to 11p seven days a week.

Thanks for the pointer, Weinoo.

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Nothing new to add except that the tacos are still wonderful and as described above. One pork and one (amazingly tender) lengua taco make a delicious and extraordinarily cheap light meal.

Has the menu on the side of the truck always included English translations? I don't remember that being there on earlier trips but I also don't remember my own name sometimes.

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Note: an empty parking lot does not mean no wait at La Preferida. I was told 20 minutes for my small order slightly before noon on a Saturday, and as I waited several people who had apparently phoned in larger orders rolled up. So public service announcement: their phone number is 301-787-5946. (That said I still think their tacos are worth a 20 minute wait).

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La Preferida has moved a bit further south on New Hampshire, in the parking lot of a Sunoco gas station.  An order of Pastelitos de Carne was 3 fried empanada-like creations -- expertly fried, great texture and not greasy at all, and stuffed with savory ground beef.  Accompaniments included a forgettable coleslaw, a moderately spicy red salsa, and a much tastier but very spicy green sauce.  The chicken sandwich looked pretty boring on the menu -- a subway roll with shredded chicken, hard boiled eggs, avocado and cheese -- but the chicken itself was moist and really tasty.  It had obviously been long-stewed and was very nicely spiced.  Three tacos, one each pork, beef, and tongue, were a huge disappointment -- the tongue was very tender and nicely flavored but the meat in the other two was miserably tough.  All three were served on a single, doughy, thick tortilla, with oversized hunks of dried out cucumber and radish that looked like they'd been hacked with a dull cleaver by a blind person, and no cheese or avocado.  So overall a pretty mixed bag.    

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2 hours ago, Rhone1998 said:

La Preferida has moved a bit further south on New Hampshire, in the parking lot of a Sunoco gas station.  An order of Pastelitos de Carne was 3 fried empanada-like creations -- expertly fried, great texture and not greasy at all, and stuffed with savory ground beef.  Accompaniments included a forgettable coleslaw, a moderately spicy red salsa, and a much tastier but very spicy green sauce.  The chicken sandwich looked pretty boring on the menu -- a subway roll with shredded chicken, hard boiled eggs, avocado and cheese -- but the chicken itself was moist and really tasty.  It had obviously been long-stewed and was very nicely spiced.  Three tacos, one each pork, beef, and tongue, were a huge disappointment -- the tongue was very tender and nicely flavored but the meat in the other two was miserably tough.  All three were served on a single, doughy, thick tortilla, with oversized hunks of dried out cucumber and radish that looked like they'd been hacked with a dull cleaver by a blind person, and no cheese or avocado.  So overall a pretty mixed bag.    

Dan, this is the Sunoco immediately north of the DC line, right? (There's another one immediately north of East-West Highway - thanks for this.)

You know, I was driving down 14th Street NW today, at the Mall between Madison and Jefferson Drive, and it's almost funny how many food trucks there are on that block. I wonder if people know that these trucks are largely coming in from the suburbs and exurbs, often from restaurants that nobody of culinary conscience would frequent - I mean, these are God-awful restaurants, but their food trucks have names like "Bombay Delight!" with subtitles like "Arabic skewer meats and veggies" (that's a fictional example, but it's one of dozens-upon-dozens). Someone (me?) should walk up-and-down that block, take pictures of each truck, and post them here - it would make for a pretty funny post.

Yes, they're better than the dreaded hot-dog carts, but in cases, only marginally better. But you know what? It would be of value to ferret out the quality operators from the dreck that most of them almost surely are.

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