Smile Politely

Tacos from five Champaign-Urbana taco trucks

A photo of two tacos on a red table in front of Senores Taco truck. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

You need to know that tacos are my second favorite food, right after chicken wings. I have written about sit-down restaurant tacos (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), but taco truck tacos are different. There are no margaritas, and there are no bottomless chips, just to-go Mexican cuisine. Taco truck tacos are usually are served in tin foil and — let’s be honest — scarfed down in my car. Stopping by a food truck is a little treat, a quick taco gift to myself. There are lots of Champaign-Urbana taco trucks — including the newest Guerrero Azteca — so, of course, this list of five is not comprehensive. If I missed your favorite, do let me know.

At every truck for this list, I had my tacos Mexican style on corn tortillas with onions and cilantro, and I ordered at least one taco with pastor (my favorite) from each wheels.

Alyssa Buckley

Fernando’s Taco & More Truck

Starting alphabetically with Fernando’s Tacos & More truck, I ordered two tacos: a ground beef taco ($3) and pastor ($3), which came with three lime wedges and two cups of salsa. The pastor was chopped small and had a nice savory porky flavor, and the ground beef was simple but well salted and juicy. Light on cilantro and strong on chopped onions, the tacos were good, but what was wowza about Fernando’s was the salsa. With visible pepper seeds throughout, the red hot sauce was very hot, stinging with a smoky chipotle flavor, and the green was no relief; the salsa verde had a fresh, bright spiciness that tasted so good. Since the proteins I tried were pretty mild, the tacos were ripe for hot sauce, and the delicious salsas took the tacos up a notch.

If you’ve been to Downtown Champaign on a late afternoon or evening, you’ve probably seen Fernando’s taco truck (or both trucks) parked and serving dinner catty-corner from Barrelhouse 34 and across the street from Fire Doll Studio‘s new location, but the truck is open for lunch on the University of Illinois campus, too, and their new brick-and-mortar restaurant opens tomorrow, Friday, May 12th.

Fernando’s Tacos and More
Wright & Green
M-F 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Main Street
M-Sa 3 to 11 p.m.

Alyssa Buckley

Los Hidalguenses Truck

This truck was one of my first reviews on Smile Politely, and since that day, I’ve been a regular customer of the black truck on Bloomington Road specifically for the truck’s al pastor. For this list, I ordered three al pastor tacos ($3 each), served with grilled onions and pepper with two lime wedges and raw radish. I was planning on ordering just two, but these are so good that I can’t eat just two; I need three. What’s special about these? The pineapple. The tacos have a yummy blend of sweet grilled pineapple and diced pork. I can’t get enough of the pops of fruity sweetness with bites of the savory pastor.

I’m not crazy about the side of raw radish slices that always comes with tacos here, but if you are, go off. Sometimes I’ll ask for just the tacos, but sometimes I don’t, and then I’ll nom the veggies. Parked in the Hunter’s Haven lot on Bloomington Road just past Popeye’s and Thara Thai, the truck accepts text orders to 217-714-0738 for quicker pick-up, or you can order at the truck.

Los Hidalguenses
1040 W Bloomington Rd
M-T 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
W-F 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sa 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Alyssa Buckley

Maize Mexican Grill Taco Truck

I found the Maize truck on the U of I campus and ordered two traditional tacos: a pastor taco ($3.25) and carne asada taco ($3.75), which came wrapped in tin foil in a small brown bag with two salsas. The tacos were a little smooshed, but the truck’s not about presentation; it’s about being quick to feed a line of hungry university people. With lots of cilantro (including chopped stems, which I like) and diced onions, each taco was wrapped in a single soft tortilla that Maize makes in-house from corn to masa to taco.

The carne asada taco was the most stuffed taco (and the most expensive) of all 11 tacos in this list. Practically overflowing out of the tortilla, the chopped steak was chewy, charred, and deliciously salty. The pastor taco was phenomenal; the pork almost melted in my mouth. Maize’s pastor was saucy, peppery, and porky with long slices mixed with small pieces. The pork was so tender and delicious that I wish I had an entire bowl of the pastor to eat. I needed no sauce on these because both meats were just incredible.

The truck’s schedule is not listed online, and when I asked the guy on the truck, he said he didn’t know the schedule. If you can spot the taco truck around Champaign-Urbana, go for the tacos, but if not, hit up the Green Street location for takeaway tacos or Maize at The Station for a sit-down tacos.

Maize Mexican Grill taco truck

Alyssa Buckley

Mo’s Burritos Taco Truck

A friend brought us tacos from Mo’s Burritos on our very first day of living in Champaign, and my god, did they taste especially tasty after a day of lugging boxes. Since then, I’ve held a place in my heart for the faded yellow truck at the corner of Prospect Avenue and Bradley Avenue. I ordered the carnitas ($2.50) and the pastor ($2.50), which were served on double corn tortillas with two sauces and a lime wedge. The carnitas taco had tender pulled pork with a little char and some crispy edges. Porky and with some fatty bites, the pastor was decadent and delicious, with flecks of red chile and saturated in flavor, but still mild tasting and not spicy.

The sauces were good especially the red sauce which burned instantly with a sharp heat all over my mouth. Like Grace said in her review of Mo’s Burritos truck last week, watch out for that one. There’s a lone picnic table beside the truck if you want to stay and eat.

Mo’s Burritos Food Truck
1104 N Prospect
9 a.m. to 11 p.m., daily

Alyssa Buckley

Señores Tacos

Last of the five trucks in this list, Señores Taco truck opened in 2021 and added a second very pretty purple truck last year. At this truck, I ordered a pastor taco ($2.50) and a campechano taco ($2.50). The tacos came wrapped in tin foil, served with two lime pyramids and two salsas. Piping hot from the grill, the double corn tortilla tacos were ready in less than five minutes.

A mix of chorizo and steak, the campechano was very good. I liked the combination of the charred steak and the peppery, oily pork. This taco tasted smoky and a bit spicy, but the fresh onions, cilantro, and savory steak tempered the crumbly chorizo. The pastor taco was only okay compared to the other pastor tacos; this taco had hunks of pork, and some fattier pieces had an extra chewy texture. The taco was better when I added the red hot sauce because the pork soaked the salsa up, and the pastor’s fatty richness balanced the salsa’s scalding spicy flavor well. Find the truck parked off Bradley Avenue near Parkland College. There are two sunny picnic tables for people that want to eat tacos right away (and not in their car).

Señores Tacos
1904 W Bradley Ave
M-F 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

More Articles