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I ate at 13 taco trucks in five days and lived to tell about it

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I love my job as photographer for the Arkansas Times, particularly when I get a dream assignment like shooting and eating at 13 taco trucks. But a mass of deadlines can conspire against even the best assignments. So, with 10 days before deadline, I still hadn't visited any of the trucks. Not to worry said the long forgotten voice of the little fat boy inside me, legendary in family lore for leaving no plate un-cleaned and no ice cream un-eaten.

I started at Samantha II on Geyer Springs with two pork tacos, which were delicious —spiced just right and juicy without being greasy. Then followed it up on Chicot with the best chicken taquitos I've had in years at El Jalapeno. I felt confident. I can do this, I thought. A short trip down Baseline led me to Emma's, where I ordered the chicken quesadilla and a taco supreme. The order taker shook her head as she sang out, "The quesadilla is very big," as she turned to make my order. As promised, it was huge and messy, but well worth it. Midway through the taco, I started to hit a wall. But then I noticed La Vaquera across the street. So off I went, this time for two chicken tacos, which were a bit dry, but tasty with a dab of hot sauce.

The next two days were a blur of tortas, tamales, tacos, jalapenos, about a gallon of hot sauce and too many bottles of Coca de Mexicana to count. When I reached the last of the trucks on my list, I burped a sigh of relief.

And then two trucks got added to my list. The fat boy inside of me, threatening to become full-grown, shuddered. But he/I (the line was beginning to blur) pressed on. First with a burrito at Tacos Guanajuato, which proved to be a mistake as it was the largest one I'd had in years, stuffed with juicy beef, chopped onion, beans rice and just the right amount of roasted pepper. I was full before I'd barely started. Then to Taco Mexico for two chorizo tacos, which might be the best I sampled. I took a break and then ventured out after midnight on Saturday to Taqueria Samantha outside of Club Latino on Broadway. A trio of tacos — beef, pork and chicken — provided a gluttonously satisfying coda to the shoot.

The moral of the story: Never eat at 14 taco trucks in five days in an attempt to relive the glory days of an overfed youth. I can't say enough about the food. But my stomach isn't 24 anymore. Pass the Tums.

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