Tacos and tradition

Something was troubling me.

On a warm, breezy Saturday, the opening day of the Pasco farmers market, I was there as tradition with my mom and my husband, wandering among the stalls of street food, horchata, and handmade trinkets. We were surrounded by happy families and bouncy music for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. I was content, but still something ate at my gourmand soul.

(Yes, gourmand. And yes, pun intended.)

My mom, a life-time, third-generation Tri-Citian, had never eaten at a taco truck.

I, a life-time, fourth-generation Tri-Citian and a devout fan of our local mobile taquerias, was bound and determined to fix this that very day.

We stood in line at a horchata tent while my husband ordered a tall glass of ricey, cinnamonny heaven. I watched my mom taking in the sights and smells all around her with a smile.

Marcus paid for the drink and passed it to me. Sweet, cold, creamy — perfect for the warm morning.

“Try some!” I offered my mom the drink after I’d had a sip. She hesitated, saying something about coconut (there were piles of it at the stand), and I offered the horchata a little closer. “Just try it. You won’t taste coconut, honest.” To our mutual delight, she actually liked it.

Perhaps the taco truck wouldn’t be as much of a stretch as I’d thought.

“Hey! We still haven’t taken you to a taco truck!” I said to her, passing the drink back to my husband.

Marcus nearly choked on his horchata. “What! No. That is wrong, and we are fixing that today. Right now. Let’s go!”

We rattled off a quick list of our favorite taco trucks in the area and agreed on one nearby. We hopped in mom’s car and gave her directions to a bustling taco truck on 4th, north of the court house — La Esperanza 2.

“So, mom, what’ll it be? Lengua? Cabeza?” I teased. “Just kidding, just kidding. No tongue or head for you today. We’ll go with a quesadilla.” Being mostly vegetarian, her options were limited, but we’d make it work.

“They don’t really… do… vegetarian tacos,” I explained. “Last time I asked for ‘sin carnes’, they looked at me funny. Just trust us on this one.”

Marcus placed our order. Kids ran around us as we waited. Marcus admired the rattail on one youth, memories of his own clouding his face. Norteño music blared from a nearby SUV. I took a photo of mom smiling in front of the bilingual menu to commemorate this milestone and texted it to my dad.

We soon tucked in to our veggie quesadilla while Marcus dined on beef and pork tacos. It was quiet except the sounds coming from the kitchen and the occasional question from mom about the food on our plates. We were too busy experiencing and enjoying our meal (and keeping it from blowing away) to say anything.

“That… was so good,” she said, rubbing lemon on her hands for post-meal cleanup (a Marcus tradition), truly relishing the meal she’d just finished. “I’m so glad we finally did this. Thank you so much!”

“Hey, that’s why you have kids, isn’t it? So they also can teach and show and introduce you to new things as they, too, get older, right?” I said, looking at the sandy sagebrush surrounding us while we cleaned up.

I grinned cheekily at her. “Welcome to the Tri-Cities, Mom!”

I think we’ve found a new extension of our Saturday tradition.

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Kristin De La Rosa

Kristin De La Rosa

A so-far life-time resident, born and raised in the Tri-Cities. I dabble in many things -- art, graphic design, writing, homesteading, learning languages and traveling. I speak and understand just enough Spanish and Japanese to get into (or out of) trouble. Formally educated in journalism; graphic and web design pay the bills. I have a huge crush on how small our big community is.

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  • One, we need to meet. Two, it must be for tacos at a favorite truck. Which ones are your fave?

  • Crossdiver

    I agree with the above points.

  • Kristin

    I have so many! But my three favorite taquerias are the following:
    La Esperanza 2 in Pasco on 4th.
    A taco truck by the laundromat in Benton City — it’s the one on the left as you’re facing the building — across the street from the super market. BEST. SOPES. EVER.
    And, for a bricks-and-mortar alternative, you can’t beat La Placita, formerly Roberto’s, on Clearwater in Kennewick.
    I’ve not once been disappointed at any of these establishments :).

  • Lunch next week? Pick your favorite of those three and we’ll share a meal!

  • Kristin

    It’ll have to be a weekend any time after Fathers Day — I work in north Richland, too far away from any of those locations for a decent chance to hang out and eat some delicious food! I like the Benton City one best, but for in-town convenience you can’t beat La Placita. What weekend is looking good for you?