Visiting the Tri-Cities
There are over 200 wineries within a one-hour drive of the Tri-Cities, many of them are award-winning and producing world renowned wines. The AVAs around the Tri-Cities are often referred to as a “young Napa Valley,” and the Tri-Cities has been aptly coined the Heart of Washington Wine Country.™
In addition to wine, the Tri-Cities is positioned at the confluence of the Yakima, Columbia and Snake Rivers. Water recreation opportunities are abundant and combining the two attractions is common and enthusiastically encouraged with wine and dinner cruises, riverside tasting rooms and bustling restaurants with patios that spill out upon the mighty Columbia.
The Tri-Cities is also known for the hydroplanes that have been skimming across the waters every July since 1965, each year drawing over 70,000 people to the northern and southern shores of the Columbia for a weekend of rooster tails and sunshine.
But there’s something else about the Tri-Cities that is slightly understated and is a blossoming and delicious secret that has not yet been leaked entirely. It’s a community asset that is equally as divine as the world-class wines, the flowing rivers and the trembling quake of those rumbling hydroplanes. Simply, tacos.
Tacos La Esperanza
One of the first must-sees on the list is a large red bus on the fringes of downtown Pasco – Tacos La Esperanza. A downtown favorite in the parking lot of what appears to be an auto shop, La Esperanza will not disappoint. The service is friendly and quick and the tacos are fresh and delicious. The slightly crisp corn tortillas are brimming with perfectly grilled carne asada, garden-green cilantro, chopped onions and cabbage, then adorned with a chilled, fresh radish and lime. The crunch of the warm tortilla combined with the fresh greens is faultless.
Tacos in Tri-Cities
The Tri-Cities is teeming with pure, authentic, incredible tacos. Akin to Seattle with a coffee shop on every corner, in the Tri-Cities, there’s a taco truck on every corner and they are ample and they are exquisite. Like the baristas of Seattle, you can guarantee that whoever is in those taco trucks knows exactly what he or she is doing…an expert taco proprietor who has found their way to the Tri-Cities to share original and savory cuisine with the community and beyond.
When planning a trip to the Tri-Cities, there are many must-see trucks to add to the itinerary, and we’re bringing you just a few of the most delicious highlights.
Deeper into downtown, throughout the rich and vibrant colors of east Pasco, the vivid murals, the beautiful dress shops, panaderias and Mexican grocers, Lara’s Tacos shares a parking lot with a gas station and food mart. Sitting simply and unassuming, yet producing five-star tacos that could (and should) write the book on taco superiority, Lara’s Tacos is a must-stop for any serious connoisseur. Extra-crispy corn tortillas support a generous helping of expertly seared asada, fresh cilantro and crunchy cabbage. A chilled, firm lime and radish complete the garnish with a side of flawlessly prepared grilled onions that tie the tacos together impeccably. It’s undeniable that Lara’s Tacos belongs on any must-stop taco-tasting itinerary.
Tacos Super Uno
Across the river and into a southern section of Richland, Tacos Super Uno sits brightly to the side of another gas station. The lime-green and yellow truck is hard to miss and frankly, not one that should be missed. Popular with locals and even equipped with its own app, Tacos Super Uno is the real deal.
The barely crisp tortillas are absolutely stuffed with asada, onions, cabbage and a generous portion of leafy cilantro. With a squeeze of fresh, cool lime, the Super Uno taco game is on point. The lunch crowd is substantial, with carloads of hungry taco-truckers piling into line and filling up the many tables available in their pleasantly shaded, outside dining area. Numerous to-go orders come and go throughout the lunch hour, clearly a popular Uber Eats option for many.
The Wild Taco
Just next door, The Wild Taco occupies a corner lot and definitely competes with the Super Unos tacos. Browned, crisp tortillas with a generous serving of cilantro and cabbage, the Wild Taco tacos are as equally beloved amongst the locals. There’s even a Wild Taco 2 a few miles down the road in West Richland to ensure that nobody ever gets too hungry for tacos.
El Fat Cat Grill
It is impossible to prepare a taco-tasting itinerary without including the immensely popular El Fat Cat Grill. Bursting onto the taco truck scene in 2013 behind a party store and car wash in the middle of Kennewick, it’s easy to drive by and not even realize that the grandfather of local taco trucks is tucked discreetly into this humble and modest corner of the city. It’s a secret that has quickly spread throughout the area in a rapid taco-loving inferno and El Fat Cat has swiftly created a fan base that is intensely loyal and unfailing.
The owners, Felix and Jenny Sanchez, are equally as loyal to their customers, which is made clear by some of the menu options, thoughtfully named after a few dearly valued patrons and their willingness to customize menu options that will work for everyone.
Owner and chef Felix, who created the menu in just two days, has created a pineapple salsa that is so popular, neighboring restaurants have started offering it to their own customers. Felix and Jenny take this as a compliment and are happy to support and encourage other local businesses.
Offering a fusion flair to a traditional street taco, El Fat Cat’s Fiji Tacos are a fan favorite, with curry marinated chicken that is topped with mango, jicama, vegetable jardinière, lettuce and their house mayo. The combination of ingredients is explosive and delicious. The more original street taco options are far from ordinary in flavor and it is clear that Felix is not only a chef, but an artist who is a master of his trade.
A Taco Sensation
Family-run and operated, El Fat Cat serves up to 80 high school students a day who walk across the street to spend their lunch money on fresh, healthy and delicious cuisine. The students are a small percentage of the huge fan base that El Fat Cat has amassed in the six years it’s been at its current location and this is evident after recently reopening after being closed for a seven week remodel.
On reopening day, the lines stretched across the parking lot towards the road for hours. The new truck did not disappoint. Freshly inked with new, incredible art, as Felix and Jenny are huge supporters of the local art scene, the revamped taco truck is just as fresh as the eats coming through its window.
It’s safe to declare that along with the award-winning wines, waterways and races, the Tri-Cities is making just as loud of a statement with its tacos. Whether wildly authentic or rich in fusion and flair, it’s strikingly clear that the Tri-Cities knows, and expertly touts, its tacos.