“Taco Tuesday in Tucson” is a column where we explore the unique tacos stands throughout Tucson… on Tuesdays.
When it comes to Tucson's beloved carne asada, the visual cue of a stellar taco shop is typically a mesquite grill. For al pastor, look for the trompo, the Mexican vertical rotisserie similar to those used for Lebanese shawarma.
In Tucson, the trompo is a rarity. Most restaurants with al pastor simply cook it on the flattop griddle or grill instead. When searching online, records of Polo's Taqueria came up.
Polo's started as a taqueria at the Tohono O'odham Swap Meet, then opened a brick-and-mortar location at 918 W. Prince Rd., which sadly didn't last.
A glimmer of hope remained; scattered comments online said that the stand still operated weekend mornings at the Tohono O'odham Swap Meet. Neither the restaurant nor the swap meet had any web presence, however.
As it turns out, the Tohono O'odham Swap Meet is open from roughly 5 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Many restaurants open around "as late as" 7 a.m.; most of them are outdoors, so getting there early helps avoid the heat during summer months. Also, make sure to bring cash.
While the Tohono O'Odham Swap Meet is packed with taco stands, Polo's is easy to find along its western border. The large building features clear signage around the perimeter, while the western side prominently features the trompo.
Step inside and have a seat; a server will take your order.
Magnificence. While most al pastor in town features cubes of pork, this al pastor lived up to my expectations. The flavor wasn't very different from other al pastor I have tasted, but the texture was what made these stand out.
On the trompo, an upside-down cone of al pastor slowly rotates as it is occasionally licked by the open flame. The outside caramelizes with bits of char as the inside stays juicy. Once it has cooked through with the perfect amount of char, the exterior is shaved off thinly onto a taco and the next layer continues to spin for its turn to char.
While Polo's offers a variety of meats, don't miss out on the al pastor.
Tohono O'odham Swap Meet is located at 521 S. Westover Ave. It's open from 5 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he...