Walking the cracked pavement of Oklahoma City for the past couple of years, I’ve only been threatened with bodily harm once, when a derelict dude pulled a camping axe on me outside of the Valero on the notorious corner of NW 10th and Penn late one fall evening.
All I had on me was ten bucks that night and it was all for Taqueria El Dolar, a taco truck that is totally worth dying for.
Nowadays, older and wiser and packing my own cuchillo courtesy of that same gas station, I still make the dusky walk for their grande menu, featuring foodstuffs that you’d normally have to hit up a well-meaning restaurant to enjoy; it’s not unusual to order a few delicacies and eat them on the concrete island, the smell of freshly pumped gas surrounding you as the security guard watches your back.
This past weekend, as the sun was slowly setting, I decided to trek down that way, past the decrepit churches and broken down mechanic shops, wanting nothing more than some land-locked truck-based shrimp-heavy specialties, one of the things El Dolar truly does better than most.
In addition to the camaróns, I also bought a few eats that I’ve recently noticed on their menu; waiting, I stood by the ancient ice machine, sucking down an orange Fanta while a homeless couple lovingly slept a few feet away. I observed that El Dolar’s sturdy truck was a newer model, obviously bought from a local hot dog place that is long out of business.
Early to rise, they serve breakfast all damn day, with the Hot Link Breakfast Torta ($6.00) enough to get my hungry ass out of bed nearly every morning. This the true desayuno de los campeones, featuring a toasted bolillo roll filled with a hearty helping of thick-cut red-hot medallions, as well as well-made eggs and a bit of cheese, making it one of the better morning meals around town.
Cooked to order with my choice of meat—my favorite, by the way, is always barbacoa—the Alambre ($9.00) is a smoldering ray of famished light, a magnificently magical dish featuring chopped slices of ham and bacon, as well as bell peppers, onions, cheese, salsa and, most important, my undying devotion.
Served with frijoles y arroz next to a rolled-up serving of warm tortillas, this regional dish is a popular find on this or, really, any menu. The barbacoa, as usual, is a delicate beast, filling each tortilla with a divine taste; a bit of onion from the makeshift burrito dropped into my open shirt as a cooling breeze began to blow.
But, like I said earlier and will say again, my real reason for coming to El Dolar every so often is for their inventive shrimp concoctions, including selections such as Camaróns a la Crema, Camaróns Ranchero Rojo and, most specifically, the devilish dish called Camaróns a la Diabla ($10.50), a Styrofoam box smoldering in front of me.
A dark blessing from the pits of Hell itself, this is one truly evil cabrón; the already-spiced shrimp is peppered with the errant seeds of dining diabolatry from both ancho and guajillo chiles. Along with more bell peppers and onions, this is designed burn your everlasting soul with a metaphorical fuego, the last of my orange soda barely coming to my aid.
As I packed up my leaking leftovers and zipped up my abused backpack, the cuchillo fell out of the small side-pocket and bounced off my foot. Don’t leave home without it, bro. Cómpralo ya!