Normally parked in front of some of my favorite neighborhood bars, I have become quite the fan of Tacos Sabrozón and rather chummy with the owners, Lizeth Salazar and Albert Cuellar.
The food that these two provide is altogether stellar, not to mention quite plentiful. If you recall, I named the red salsa from Tacos Sabrozón one of the best things I ate in September of 2022.
Most recently, I spotted Tacos Sabrozón, right in front of the Yugo Dorms at the University of Arizona. After finding nearby parking, I climbed aboard the truck thankful to be in there and out of the cold.
The first time I ordered their Pollo Caramelo, I did some arm curls with the container it resided in due to the measure of its heft. If memory serves, I only got through half of the caramelo that night. That meant leftovers for breakfast. Hey, it's Tucson. Breakfast Pollo Caramelos happen.
If you’re not with a caramelo, just think of it as a ramped-up quesadilla, packed full of protein and goodies. A quesadilla eso es muy grande.
As we chatted, Salazar began to make that red salsa I am so keen on. It's tough to explain via typing but the red salsa from Tacos Sabrozón has a life all to itself. It's not unfamiliar, but it’s a substance you really haven’t had before. Those are bold words coming from a food wagon in Tucson because we have lots of salsas here in the T-dizzle.
Salazar explained what went into their salsa but only in some fragmented, abstract vicinity. She wanted me to know what was in it without actually telling me what was in it. So, I accepted my unknowing with a nodding compliance. It’s that good. Maybe I don’t want to really know.
First order, boom, a row of carne asada tacos and a breakfast burrito. Albert didn’t waste any time as he quickly dropped the seasoned meat on the flattop, or plancha as I like to call it, and began cracking eggs next to a pile of potatoes.
Having been on many a food truck during service while taking photos, I made my best efforts to stay out of the way. To keep them coming back, you have to be efficient, especially in the mobile meals game. This is street food and people on the streets want to eat — efficiently, too.
Before I had a chance to take the lens cap off, the orders were out the window. Everyone looked really happy about it besides the fact that it was on the edge of 50 degrees and they were in shorts and t-shirts. Look, 50 degrees is straight chilly for us here in Tucson. Maybe they were from the Midwest. That would explain a lot.
Cuellar told me that before cooking for Tacos Sabrozón he was working in construction. It was a hint from his brother that helped get Tacos Sabrozón off the ground and on the streets. The back-breaking labor of that gig helped pave the path to expediting amazing Sinaloan-inspired eats to the hungry Southern Arizona populace.
A guy smiling wide and wisely wearing a thick hoodie rolled up and ordered a Pollo Torta. If you need some further education on Mexican food terminology, a torta is basically a sandwich — the bun being very soft, even cake-like. In fact, most people that speak Spanish will tell you that torta means cake.
Much like everything else on the menu, a Tacos Sabrozón torta is a heartwarming, belly-busting imperative, whether we’re experiencing the torrid depths of summer or a brisk late winter afternoon.
The Chicken Torta is really yummy but my personal favorite has to be their adobada, an herb-rubbed pork that is finished in a red chili sauce. Not exactly their red salsa but in the same stadium. It just has this richness to it without an overt suet gnaw, and then a pinch of spice brings the party closer to a rager.
The photos that I provide with my stories are usually pretty okay, only because in most instances, plates of food are carefully placed in front of me. Here though, I had to get acquainted with my fairly new camera and how it works in absolute haste.
More tacos. A Carne Asada Burrito followed by a small (or chico as they like to call it) Cheese Quesadilla. Another breakfast burrito. Even more tacos. At one point they ran out of salsa verde so Salazar threw all of the components in a blender, hit the proverbial chainsaw tornado option, and within seconds had the bright ambrosial sauce ready to go.
The lunch rush continued with more tacos. Nachos? Do you have nachos? Maybe enough chips for two orders. In fact, they were getting close to running out of tortillas. They get them delivered each Wednesday.
Time was running short and there was cheese on my camera lens.
Then, the lunch rush stopped. To be a part of the madness was like having your body trapped in a tilt-a-whirl ride, not knowing when it might end. This one did and all was silent.
Although, then came a knock on the passenger side door. It was a guy holding a large box and inside that box were tortillas. This was their tortilla guy who drives up from Mexico each Wednesday to deliver his handmade goods.
“They are the best tortillas I have ever had,” said Salazar. “They are the only tortillas we will ever serve. If we run out of tortillas, we don’t serve.”
Many cases are made for the best tortillas in Tucson and this secret agent man of masa could be the lurking shadow threat. Who is he? Where in Mexico does he actually come from? The collective classified information shrugs from Salazar and Cuellar let me know, just like their red salsa, that it's best to not know what you think you want to know.
All I know is that Tacos Sabrozón totally lives up to its name — savory and tasty. So far, I haven’t had anything worth scrunching a brow about after taking a bite. I’m pretty sure you will feel the same.
As I waved goodbye and headed back to my car, hoping to the camera gods I got at least one good shot, a new faction of customers began to line up. Wait… Where did I park again?
For more information, follow Tacos Sabrozón on Facebook and Instagram.
Mark Whittaker began his journalism career in San Francisco around 1997. It was for a small Northern California music magazine...