If you live in Champaign-Urbana, you probably know about La Paloma food truck. If you’ve been to the farmers’ market this summer, you’ve definitely seen the truck. It’s been the only truck at the Champaign market lately, and it’s always there at the Urbana market on Saturdays. It also makes appearances at Triptych and Riggs, too.
We have never reviewed the truck since its opening in 2018, though I have mentioned the truck in my roster of Champaign-Urbana food trucks, our farmers’ market column, and last year’s PYGMALION food guide. Here’s the TLDR on the truck: order the chicken torta (truly amazing) and carnitas tacos.
La Paloma food truck offers Mexican cuisine, and for this review, I tried the tacos, nachos, a chicken torta, and breakfast combo.
I ordered three tacos ($9.25), each with a different protein: carnitas, al pastor, and steak. Starting on the left, the taco with carnitas had big hunks of tender, shredded pork, and the occasional bite with some rendered fat was absolutely delicious. The al pastor taco had pineapple chunks and chopped pork with a subtle smokiness. I squeezed lime over top the tacos, and I liked the brightness it added to the oily pastor and pineapple. Lastly, on the right, the steak taco came with ground beef. While the taco tasted good — especially with the green salsa, I was expecting steak, like chopped up, grilled steak, but this taco had ground beef crumbles, which was a little disappointing to me. That said, if you love ground beef, get the steak tacos.
The other angle didn’t do the carnitas taco justice. Just look at it; that one was so good. Next time, I’m going to order three tacos, all carnitas.
Last Thursday, I visited the truck again at Triptych, and we ate dinner in the air-conditioned taproom. My husband had Brick River Homestead peach cider, and I had the Eraclea, the new Italian-inspired lager, which was a great crispy boi.
I ordered the chicken torta ($9.50) and was blown away by how freaking good it was. I need to show you it from another angle, so you can see that golden-brown press better.
With a buttery flavor, the bun was fluffy yet grilled, and the cheese on the outside was crisped to perfection. It tasted fantastic and was a total mess to eat because of the spicy red salsa and sour cream, but I did not care — pass the napkins. The chopped chicken had a flavorful chipotle marinade that went well with the peppery flavor in the salsa. This chicken sandwich was so good that I could barely spare a bite for my husband.
I had everything on the torta: cheese, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and sour cream, but it’s customizable. If you don’t like tomatoes or whatever, just ask them not to add that.
I also ordered the super nachos ($9.75) with carnitas. The nachos had orange nacho cheese, refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, jalapeño, sour cream, and cilantro. They were solid nachos but nothing special really. The onions, lettuce, and tomato were all fresh. The cilantro was delicious with bites of carnitas, and the refried beans had a nice flavor, but unfortunately many of the chips succumbed to the gluey, orange cheese and quickly became soggy. Still, it was a yummy dish, and none of the toppings outshone the tasty carnitas.
The chips were pretty average: room temp, salty corn chips, though my kid declared the chips “very good!” — so there’s that.
Lastly, I tried something off the truck’s breakfast menu one Saturday morning at the market.
I hate to say it, but this combo ($8.25) was just okay. The pancake tasted fine and had a nice vanilla flavor, but that little cup wasn’t enough syrup for me. The slice of bacon was thin and cooked well, neither burnt nor too soft, but sadly, the scrambled eggs were plain and underseasoned. If you want breakfast, skip the combo and order just the pancakes (ask for extra syrup) or try the truck’s breakfast tacos.
Besides these items, the truck also sells burritos (regular, breakfast, and a super version that is three times a regular burrito), a salad bowl, quesadillas, and corn. Each time I’ve ordered from the truck, it’s the same two friendly faces working inside the truck, and they remember all modifications we’ve asked for (like when we asked for “just a little sour cream” on the nachos).
What’s cool is they hand out a buzzer, so there’s no number to remember or having to listen for your name or even a need to be nearby. One Saturday, I was down a totally different market aisle — over by the Weird Meat Boyz hot sauce stand, and the buzzer still alerted me.
La Paloma food truck is a good taco truck and specifically a wonderful torta truck — that chicken torta was fantastic. Follow the truck on Facebook for updates.
La Paloma food truck