Mermaids? New Taco Kid on the Block.

Ed gets a lucky beer-taco break on the way to the bus

So I'm coming down 13th, heading for the 12th and Imperial bus and trolley stop.

Smell of, well, corn twitches my nose. Look left, and there outside Mission Brewery (¡100 years old this year!) is this food truck I've never seen before.

"Heavenly Baja Tacos," says the sign along the side, along with a heavenly long-tailed mermaid saying, like, "Come hither!" at a Baja-looking beach under palm trees.

"What's your name?" says this gal - Jessica? - through a sliding window to the guy ahead. He tells her and she sends him down to the window at the other end of the truck. Same with me.

Hmm. I'm thinking. Because maybe if I missed one bus I could sneak in to try this cask version they have of Mission's Dark Seas, the stoutly brew I love, and combine it with something from here.

"Can I take the tacos in?" I ask the lady, Veronica, at the second window.

"That's why we're here," she says.

So the choice is easy. First you decide if you want an $8 burrito or a $7 combo of two tacos. Guess you could get just one for $3.50 but I don't think to ask.

D'aagh... They have burritos or tacos with fish, shrimp, carnitas, pollo asado or carne asado. That's it.

But gotta have tacos. That's what this truck is about. Second, one has to be shrimp. They're usually more expensive, but they're the same price as the others here. The shrimp's cooked in a batter made with a "family secret ingredient." And they have red cabbage coleslaw, tomato, red onions pickled in lime juice, and diced serrano chile, "tossed with Mexican cream."

So they seem to be doing everything right here. I go with one shrimp, and, uh, okay, I'm thinking carnitas. The word actually means "little meats," right? But is usually about braised pork. Love it. Here it comes with cilantro, those pickled red onions, guac, and queso fresco, the creamy Mexican cheese.

Then again, the pollo asado is "grilled, marinated chicken...smothered in cilantro cream sauce with queso taco..."

Lord. They're describing these tacos like we're in a four-star restaurant.

That cilantro cream sauce sounds oozing beautiful, so I go for the pollo asado.

Two minutes later, Veronica is handing me the little cardboard container. Colors all so bright it looks like a little posey of flowers.

"I've just been going three months," says Veronica. She's a ball of energy with bright face. Have to ask her. "What's the secret family recipe for the shrimp batter?"

"You'll have to guess," she says. "But everything I learned was from my grandpa in Mazatlán. That's where I'm from."

Man. Always wanted to go to Mazatlán. By ferry across the Sea of Cortez, overnight from La Paz.

"So they have mermaids down there?"

"Family secret. You'll have to go down and find out."

Bottom line: they still have some cask Dark Seas. It is like a lot of cask brewed beers I've had, fruity and totally delicious.

"What's in it that's different from the regular draft?" I ask the guy.

"If you can believe," he says, "Cap'n Crunch, the one with peanut butter in it. It was just a crazy idea our crazy brewer had."

Crazy like a fox. I hand over $5.50 and get one. The glass is small, but the taste is way-large. (And so is the alcohol punch, so watch out.)

It does work wonders with the shrimp taco. In the end I hold the chicken one for Carla. She likes it, when I get back, but we both agree, the cream sauce might have had kick to it.

So yes, missing buses, but Mission accomplished. Heh heh. Here's hoping Veronica and her mermaid will be back soon.

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