Wednesday, July 18, 2007


A few months ago, my friend Jonathan, after listening to me tell another story about the great meal I had enjoyed at one of my favorite taco trucks that afternoon, suggested that I start a lunch blog. I don't know that I had ever read a blog at that point - I somehow doubt that he had, either - but I got the idea. Now at last I've gotten around to it..

This week I ate at one of my favorite spots in the area, the El Jaliciense taco truck at Rosebank Farms on Johns Island. Besides serving the best quezadillas around, El Jaliciense also offers a beautiful atmosphere for enjoying their delightful Mexican cuisine. The truck is parked between a covered farmer's market and the adjacent crops, which lie just before the entrance to Kiawah and Seabrook Islands*. It's operated out of a restaurant on Ashley Phosphate Road up in North Charleston called El Apache.

I arrived a little after noon, and there were about ten customers - more than usual - ordering or already waiting for their food. I got in line and ordered my usual there, two quezadillas de pastor, and grabbed a bottle of Jarritos out of the cooler. The single shaded picnic table was occupied by a few guys from a concrete crew, so I sat on a bench and watched the chickens chase one another around the yard while I waited for my number to be called.

The tortillas and the meat at El Jaliciense are very good, but what sets their quezadillas apart is the addition of fresh greens, tomato, onion, and pickled jalapeƱo to the usual meat and cheese. I don't know whether it's the style of their cooks or it's simply how quezadillas are traditionally prepared in Jalisco. Whatever the case, the combination of the warm sweet pork and cheese with the crunch of the fresh vegetables makes for an beautifully balanced meal.

When I stopped to pay before leaving, I asked the woman taking orders if she spoke English. I wanted to ask whether they were ever parked there on Saturdays (a question too complicated for my nascent Spanish). For some reason I though she did, but she shook her head and referred me to the man preparing the food behind her. Disappointingly, the answer was no. I thanked them again for the delicious food and headed back to work.

*The establishment of these two gated developments in the 1970s paved the way for the continuing exploitation of what had been a rich and peaceful agricultural sea island community whose livelihood was symbiotic with that of nearby Charleston. The land where the truck parks is owned and worked by a middle aged white farmer whose ancestor is the namesake of the old drawbridge at the other end of the island. He's a kind and quiet man, but more than a little defiant in the face of the development. And though I know he enjoys El Jaliciense's tortas de asada, I've always suspected that he also gets at least some spiteful satisfaction out of helping to provide this fair and friendly place to eat for the hard working immigrant crews who labor inside the gates, where the taco trucks aren't allowed to go.


Jonathan said...

Me dejan las tripas!

Nko said...

well said, friend. long live defiance in the face of gated communities.

chic said...

Do you think El Apache would have the same quality at the truck? Johns Island is a bit far but If the truck is better I would make the trip.

pa' comer said...

Hey, Chic. I've picked up tacos at Apache, but I've never tried the quezadilla there. I know that sometimes items are served differently out of taco trucks (which are an old tradition), but I don't know about this case. Either way, I'm sure you could have a great meal there.

There's also a good place across the street, and a little closer to I-26 called Los Parados..