Bakersfield, CA: The potato taco at this food truck? Out of bounds

Casey Christie / The Californian
The combo plate at Loncheria Otro Rollo is a favorite.
The menu offers barbacoa and carnitas as well as asada, chicken and chorizo,

By Casey Christie |  The Bakersfield Californication

The ahogadas torta at Loncheria Otro Rollo. The sauce is tingly-in-the-mouth hot, and enough to make you slightly uncomfortable until the burn goes away.
The ahogadas torta at Loncheria Otro Rollo. The sauce is tingly-in-the-mouth
hot, and enough to make you slightly uncomfortable until the burn goes away.

Back in June, we wrote about the increased popularity of food trucks, especially Mexican taco trucks. But since this particular culinary delight is a moving target — literally — we enlisted our readers as we continue to search for worthy food trucks.

What started the whole thing in the first place was Loncheria Otro Rollo, which was highlighted in a magazine article about taco trucks around the state.

One problem: We couldn’t find it.

But then reader Barbara Mueleman wrote to tell us we had the right address but that the owner was on vacation and had moved the truck.

She’s back, so thanks, Barbara, for leading us to that winner. It is still hard to find despite its bright red color. It’s smaller than most of the trucks we’ve gone to, so that could be a factor, but look for it right between the Chevron station and the very underrated Shake ’n Buns fast-food restaurant on White Lane, just east of Highway 99. It’s on the south side of the street.

The owner, who is quite friendly, convinced us to get the “must order” combination plate ($6.40), which is half a torta and two of the potato tacos, the truck’s specialty.

Before we get to the food, understand one thing about the menu here: While we were there, two men walked up and ordered nachos. The owner had to spend some time educating them that the truck offers mostly specialties from Guadalajara. Another couple came up and wanted breakfast burritos; again, she patiently explained her menu but ended up accommodating them by putting something together that came close to what they wanted.

The trademark from Guadalajara that she serves is a torta ahogadas, a traditional Mexican sandwich coated with a spicy sauce. That’s what I tried. The owner will tell you right up front that the sauce is spicy. I’ve heard that far too often to take it seriously, but my recommendation is to get it on the side if you’re not sure you’re up to it. A man near me also got the spicy and was as shocked as I was. It’s tingly-in-the-mouth hot, and enough to make you slightly uncomfortable until the burn goes away.

The menu offers barbacoa and carnitas as well as asada, chicken and chorizo, but only the first two meats were offered when we visited. The torta is on a fresh borillo roll, so she wins points for authenticity. There’s a healthy portion of meat, purple onion strips and hot sauce on top and in the middle.

Casey Christie / The CalifornianThe combo plate at Loncheria Otro Rollo is a favorite. The menu offers barbacoa and carnitas as well as asada, chicken and chorizo,
Casey Christie / The Californian
The combo plate at Loncheria Otro Rollo is a favorite. The menu offers barcacoa
and carnitas as well as asada, chicken and chorizo,

The tacos are amazing, frankly. Think of mashed potatoes stuffed inside corn tortillas and the whole thing fried until the tortilla is so crisp it’s brittle. Then top it all with meat, more sauce, a bit of Parmesan cheese and iceberg lettuce. I used a fork so as not to miss anything. These tacos are addicting, and next time Guy Fieri swings through town, he needs to try these. They belong on Triple D.

I had to come back for the “hot dog and potatoes (Mexican style)” ($3.25), which offered a wiener wrapped in bacon with the usual American trimmings and jalapenos. While you’re waiting, the owner sometimes comes out with fresh-fried potato chips with a drizzle of ketchup on them. What I like about these chips is that they weren’t completely crisp, tasting like breakfast potatoes with a soft spot here and there. Fresh potato chips are really hard to beat.

There is seating on a couple of picnic tables covered with plastic, and one of those portable shade structures kept us comfortable enough.

Loncheria Otro Rollo was also recommended by Jolie Chaidez, my regular companion’s hairstylist, who had high praise for Mariscos El Sinaloense, corner of Taft Highway and Highway 99. This is a seafood-only place preparing tostadas, not burritos or nachos, with more picnic tables and shade.

We ordered three different shrimp tostadas ($3 each): grilled shrimp, shrimp with octopus and shrimp with imitation crab. All were served cold on crispy flour tortillas that weren’t freshly fried. We forgive that considering how fresh and tasty the seafood was, presented with pico de gallo and thin, fresh avocado slices.

A man near me had ordered fresh oysters topped with shrimp, pico de gallo and avocado and was slurping them down after spritzing them with fresh lime.

When we visited on a Friday it was pretty busy. There was a sign nearby warning that it was not legal to consume alcohol on the premises, but many customers had purchased 16-ounce Silver Bullets at a nearby market, which they concealed in brown paper bags. I’ve always wondered why people do that. Anytime you see someone drinking something out of a paper bag, you know it’s not good.

Reader Jan Martin gave us our last lead, emailing that “we always stop at Mary’s Food Truck on Old River Road on the way to the coast. Best carnitas burrito ever and so big it feeds two. All for $5!”

With that kind of enthusiasm, we had to head out there, though be warned it’s about 18 miles out of town. Felt like we were halfway to the cool August weather of the Central Coast.

Anyway, Jan’s enthusiasm is not misplaced. We sampled a chicken burrito and a carnitas burrito ($6 each) and they were tasty, particularly because of the excellent refried beans inside. There was also rice and meat, but no cheese, and it was all wrapped up in a large flour tortilla that tasted as if it were fresh made. The carnitas in particular were amazing with crunchy chunks, soft chunks — all with that amazingly wonderful fatty pork flavor. The chicken just couldn’t match it in excellence.

There’s more diversity on the menu than the other trucks feature, with nachos, tortas, quesadillas and tacos available; meat options include asada, three porks (chile verde, pastor and carnitas), lengua, cabeza and chicharron. If I was driving to the coast and needed a quick meal, Mary’s would get me.

Loncheria Otro Rollo
2525 White Lane 342-3813
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: Sandwiches and tacos $3.25-$7.99.
Payment: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover.
Amenities: No alcohol; few vegetarian options.
Food: Three and a half stars
Atmosphere: Two stars
Service: Four stars
Value: Four stars

Mariscos El Sinaloense
Taft Highway and Highway 99 (northwest corner) (831) 512-5724
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. every day.
Prices: Tostadas and soups $3-$15.
Payment: Cash only.
Amenities: No alcohol; some vegetarian options.
Food: Three stars
Atmosphere: Two and a half stars
Service: Three stars
Value:Three and a half stars

Mary’s Catering
13650 Copus Road (Intersection with Old River Road) 857-6150
Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. every day.
Prices: Burritos, tortas, combination plates $6-$8.
Payment: Cash only.
Amenities: No alcohol; few vegetarian options.
Food: Three stars
Atmosphere: Two stars
Service:Three and a half stars
Value:Three and a half stars

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