July 11, 2013

Eat and Run: El Corazon food truck in Portland

A jones for wheelie good Mexican fare drives our reviewer to it.

Many of us are thrilled that the food truck revolution has come to Maine, and the arrival of El Corazon is no exception. But don't twiddle your thumbs – cold weather will be back before we know it, and the food trucks will go into hibernation.

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April Garcia takes orders from walk-up customers hungry for authentic Mexican food at the El Corazon food truck.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Joe Urtuzuastegui whips up a taco in his El Corazon food truck.

Gordon Chibroski


WHERE: Street corners of Portland

LOCATOR: 200-4801; elcorazonfoodtruck.com

HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. (on a rotating schedule)

CHEAPEST GRUB: Carne asada, carnitas, chicken and vegetarian tacos, $2.50 each

WAIT: 10 minutes

PARKING: On street


RATING: ★★★★

Based on a five-star scale

I, of course, chose the hottest day to walk from my office to El Corazon, which was parked down by the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal on Commercial Street. So naturally, the first thing on the menu that caught my eye was the Agua Fresca. The flavor of the day was raspberry lime ($2.50). It was an icy fresh sensation of cold raspberry lime bliss that I would have liked to have taken a swim in.

El Corazon has five food categories on its menu: Tacos, taquitos, burritos, tamales and the Sonoran hot dog. Here's a breakdown of what's what, beginning with what I had.

The tacos are topped with cilantro, onion and salsa, and come in carne asada (steak), carnitas (pork), chicken and vegetarian. These are all $2.50, and for $2.75, you can get a Baja fish taco topped with crema, cabbage and salsa.

I had one steak and one chicken taco. The steak had just enough spice to be captivating but not overwhelming, especially since I opted out of the salsa. The chicken taco was also a tasty bite, with just the right amount of spice.

Both were delicious, though truth be told, I should have either ordered three or a side of Spanish rice or refried beans (both $1) to round out the meal, because I was still hungry after. But this is not a complaint – the tacos are appropriately priced for their size, and the ingredients were all super fresh. I simply didn't order enough food.

Taquitos, aka rolled tacos, are corn tortillas fried and topped with guacamole and sour cream. Choices are potato and cheese, chicken and shredded beef, and you can get three for $3.50.

El Corazon burritos are filled with refried beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa. Those with filling choices of chicken, carne asada, pork or vegetarian are $5.50. The Baja fish one costs $6.50, and the bean and cheese burrito is $4.

By the way, upon arrival to the El Corazon truck, I bumped into a colleague who told me the walk from Monument Square to the ferry terminal in the 90-degree heat for the fish burrito was worth every step.

Next up is tamales, which are a traditional Mexican dish of seasoned meat or vegetables that are wrapped in masa and steamed in corn husks. The tamale of the day costs $3.50, and the day I was there, they were offering a green chile with the chicken tamale.

This brings us to perhaps the most intriguing item on the menu, and the item that I will most certainly try the next time I hit El Corazon. I give you: The Sonoran hot dog. It comes wrapped in bacon and is topped with pinto beans, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, guacamole, mustard and aioli. It's very fairly priced at $3.50.

I welcome El Corazon to the Portland food truck scene with happy and hungry open arms.

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.


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