Tony and I like to go off the beaten trail from time to time. But I was nervous by how far Tony wanted to lead us when he mentioned he found a taqueria in a gas station. Really? Gas Station tacos? The three most deadly words in the English language? Immediately, thoughts of late night 7-11 burritos came to mind. Would my taste buds survive…much less my intestinal tract?
Luckily, the small taqueria in the BP next to Edward McKay ( 3520 Capital Boulevard, Raleigh, NC 27609) did not have me scrambling for the nearest hospital. On the contrary, here is a little diamond in the rough for those who like authentic Mexican street food.
Walking in, I was a little nervous I only saw the typical gas station fare; chips, candy, 40s of cheap beer. Tony led me behind the aisle of junk food to a small counter at the back of the store, where two ladies were busy grilling beef for sopes and tacos. My high school spanish was greatly needed; I was busy trying to dicipher words like lengua and tripa (I told myself to save tongue and stomach lining for the second trip).
I ordered some asada sopes and tacos, Tony went for a BBQ gordita. As I watched the ladies behind the counter, I was impressed. You would never, ever think of freshness here, but I was watching them grill meat and prepare the onions and cilantro for my tacos. The tortillas were small, handmade, and flavorful. It was a pleasant surprise.
I’ve been to a few of the local Mexican sitdown places around town, like Salsa Fresh and the myriad of “Plaza Azteca”/”Las Palmas” type places and honestly, the food here could match any of those places. My sope, a small fried corn tortilla topped with refried beans, queso fresco, meat, and salsa, was tasty and seasoned well. My soft tacos had plenty of fresh cilantro, tomatoes, and onions on top. Plus, it was nice to have some Mexican food that wasn’t overloaded with cheese. Tony had the gordita, which was basically like a tortilla sandwich, filled with standard fare of meat, sour cream, and cheese. He was pretty happy, it was a nice blend of creaminess, sweet, and savoriness.
If there was one flaw in our meal, it was the beef. Some pieces were just tough and chewy, I wonder if the BBQ or chicken would have been a better bet. Plus, it should be noted that the stand does not service drinks. However, the nice thing about being located in a gas station is that you are just two rows over from the Mexican sodas. I love Mexican Coke, since it’s still made with sugar rather than corn syrup, so it was the perfect way to end my meal.
I would never have thought that a good meal in a gas station could consist of more than a bag of chips and skittles. I had to eat my words here; what the stand lacks on refinement, it makes up for in tasty, filling, and cheap street food. Next time I need to fill up the car, I’ll come here to fill up my belly as well.