Dining on the cheap at Santa Fe food trucks, trailers, carts and stands

Santa Fe food trucks, trialers carts and stands, twas updated 7/4/2017.

Santa Fe food trucks, stands and carts can offer a money saving solution in a city where dining out can be a pricey. if you know where to go, you can dine well and not break the bank. There are a lot of ethnic restaurants where food is tasty and prices are reasonable. Some of the best dining bargains in town are found at Santa fe food trucks, carts and stands. (The term food “trucks is in quotes because there is an ordinance against food trucks. Recently, the City Council voted to allow food trucks city-wide. They have to be at least 150 feet from a food business and move every three hours. They also have allocated three, first-come, first-serve basis from 6pm daily. Prior to that, food “trucks”  had to have a stationary location in order to sell food in Santa Fe.)

People love these outdoor dining venues and some have developed loyal followings. When dining on the street, bring cash; some  accept credit cards but, at Santa Fe food trucks and stands, cash is king.

Santa Fe food trucks, carts and stands

Bang Bite

Bang Bite Santa Fe Steve Collins

Bang Bite has a loyal following photo/Steve Collins

Bang Bite has moved around a lot since we first discovered it on opening day. It stared out on the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta in late October 2013, was a hit from the beginning. These days you’ll find the truck on Water Street in the parking lot behind Vanessie. Chef/owner Enrique Guerrero has a following in Santa Fe, most recently as owner of Mangiamo Pronto, a small Italian café on Old Santa Fe Trail. He sold the café in 2011. The bright orange trailer offers a seasonal menu, with an emphasis on burgers and sandwiches. They make some of the best fries in town! When asked if there’s a culinary theme, Guerrero’s reply was “great food.”  Besides the set seasonal menu, the truck offers daily specials based on what the chef feels like cooking. It’s a good recipe to stay fresh and passionate about what you are doing. Read more about Bang Bite on Santa Fe Travelers.

Authors note: Bang Bite won Santa Fe’s 2015 Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown.

Bonzai Asian Tacos

Bonsai Asian Tacos Santa Fe photo Billie Frank

You can’t miss the bright red Bonsai Asian Tacos, photo/Billie Frank

We were hearing great things about Bonsai Asian Tacos, opened in the spring of 2015 on Cerrillos Road. (They moved to 1599 South St. Francis Drive, just north of San Mateo, in the fall of that year and remain there.) We head some good things about and had to check it out. It’s a winner. Mexican Native, Chef Juan Carlos Ruvalcaba has hit a home run with his bright red trailer mixing the taco from his homeland with the flavors of Asia. Veteran of the Terra kitchen under both Chefs Charles Dale and Andrew Cooper, he is a master of flavors. We’ve went there three times in a bit over a week. That says a lot. We love his regular tacos sampling the pulled pork and the beef bulgogi (Korean-style beef). The three taco plate will overwhelm the average appetite. We asked for an extra one and had two each. With a bit of soup and salad it was a filling dinner. The “Xtrem” offers two HUGE tacos with a choice of Korean BBQ beef or duck confit. We tried both. If we had to pick a favorite, we’d go with the beef. Vegans will love this place, too. It’s easy to get most of the offerings sans animal products. Don’t miss the seasonal flavorful Man.Avo.Co (mango, avocado and coconut), a cold soup redolent of lemon grass, lemon leaf, garlic and other flavors that will make your taste buds zing and sing. Bonsai Asian Tacos also offers Asian-style stir fries as well as a burger. Hours can vary and they do some special events so call (505) 316-9418 to make sure they’re open before you go.

Chicago Dog Express

Chicago Dog Express Santa Fe Steve Collins

Chicago Dog at Paseo de Peralta and Cerrillos Rd., photo Steve Collins

Chicago Dog Express: (600 Cerrillos Road) This hot dog stand’s been a fixture at this busy intersection since the late seventies.. They offer the American classic in a variety of ways. The big seller is the Chicago Dog, loaded with veggies. The Santa Fe Classic and the Coney Dogs are also big sellers. It’s the one I get, Steve orders the Chi Dog. Try the Frito Pie, a local favorite. They’re open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm (breakfast (burritos and Frito Pies served until 10:30) Saturdays they’re open 10:30 to 4:00. In 2010, they opened a stand at the northeast corner of the Plaza selling hot dogs and Frito Pies. They are there daily in spring and summer, weather permitting, from 11:30am to 2:30pm.

El Chile Toreado

El Chile Toreado, photo Steve Collins

El Chile Toreado, photo Steve Collins

El Chile Toreado: (Cordova Road between St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road) This taco/burrito stand has been serving Mexican food for breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday for years. They are a block from Trader Joe’s and around the corner from the St. Francis Drive Whole Foods. There is often a line. Call ahead and order.

Roque’s Carnitas

Roque's Carnitas Santa Fe Steve Collins

Roque’s Carnitas, on the Plaza, Photo Steve Collins

Roque’s Carnitas: (Santa Fe Plaza at Old Santa Fe Trail and San Francisco Street) Roque Garcia has been serving up beef carnitas (marinated grilled meat served in a tortilla) and other New Mexican treats at his cart on the Santa Fe Plaza since the mid-1980s. While Roque’s offers tamales and quesadillas, the thing to eat here is carnitas. Thin sliced beef and onions and green chile are grilled right before your eyes and placed in a flour tortilla that’s been heated on the grill. It’s then topped with a tomato, onion, and chopped jalapeño salsa, wrapped in foil, and handed to you with a bunch of napkins. You’ll need them. Hold the carnitas away from your body while you eat it; this heavenly wrap leaks a lot of juice. If you don’t eat beef,  Roque’s also makes a chicken version. Roque’s Carnitas is open seven days a week from mid-April through the end of October. Hours are from 10am to 3pm. Winters are spent in sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. If you’re in Santa Fe, and want a quick, delicious, inexpensive lunch, stop by and order one and say, “Steve and Billie sent me.”

If you have a favorite Santa Fe food truck, cart or stand you want to share, let us know.


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17 Responses to “Dining on the cheap at Santa Fe food trucks, trailers, carts and stands”

  1. Santa Fe Red
    May 23, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Roque’s Carnitas! 25 years of refining El Sabor de Santa Fe!

  2. Kirsten
    July 29, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Great list! Now 1) I’m hungry and, 2) I want to visit Santa Fe. That is, for longer than an hour. I’ve driven through but never stayed and I think that needs to change. Soon.

    • Billie Frank
      July 29, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

      Come for at least a couple of days. There’s so much to see, do and eat here!

  3. Ayngelina
    April 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    I love fine dining but really my heart is with good street food and food trucks.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Food Friday: How to make burrataMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      April 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

      I love food trucks and street food, too. If you ever get out this way, let me know- we can grab some street-food together.

  4. Billie Frank
    August 6, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    It’s great to discover new ones. Santa Fe has more small stands and trailer-type stands than food trucks. Wish we’d get more of a scene. I just read Austin as over 1,500. I can’t even begin to imagine.

  5. Carol
    May 21, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Jarochos taqueria was great! Consistently yummy fresh food. We went back three times on our trip!

    • Billie Frank
      May 21, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

      How did you discover them? If you like authentic Mexican Tacos- check out Dona Clara next time you’re in town.

  6. David Schmitt
    June 22, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

    How about Santa fe Barbeque @ 600 Old Santa Fe Trail.

  7. Faylinn
    September 21, 2016 at 8:11 am #

    I’m going to Santa Fe next month to see some of the historical things that are there, but I had no idea that they had some good food carts as well. I am definitely interested in Roque’s Carnitas, because there is nothing better than eating beef cooked in that style. However, does the cart ever move locations? I’m just curious, because I want to be prepared for that if I need to be.

    • Billie Frank
      September 21, 2016 at 9:09 am #

      Roque’s is on the same spot on the Plaza from Monday through until about 3pm until some time in November.

  8. Karla
    July 11, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

    I am visiting Santa Fe for a weekend in August and this list is giving me an exciting starting point as of what to try while I’m there. I do enjoy a good restaurant but I really love food trucks or stands do you have any other great eats suggestions?

    • Billie Frank
      July 11, 2017 at 8:36 pm #

      The blog has a lot of restaurant posts- both reviews of individual restaurants and of grouped places. We do curated recommendations for our travel planning clients. Santa Fe is a great food town. Enjoy!

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