This food truck/Mexican candy store came highly recommended by a server at Nox Kitchen, purveyor of short rib tacos and New Zealand rack of lamb. With its late-night hours and killer carne asada, Karamelo King has gained a cult status among industry workers and dive-bar dwellers along Grant Road.
The truck's owners Cristina and Rafael Gastelum are from Cananea and Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, where grilled steaks reign supreme and the plain cheese quesadilla seems inadequate compared to its beefier brother, the caramelo. But these guys take a step further by letting you "King" size things by adding onions, whole pinto beans and avocado on top!
Rafael fixed me up a Taco King straight from the mesquite charcoal grill, where he uses a rotating wheel rack to control the temperature. (He also handed me a brilliant charred onion, which I popped out of its crispy shell straight into my mouth like an Otter Pop! Gosh I love those ...)
I can see why people flock to this place. The chuck steak is seasoned with nothing but salt, a pure expression of the steer that drives the culture of Northern Mexico. It's great with the beans and the like, but it's also great by itself. (And while we're at it, in the Hass taco with cheese and green chiles.) The perfect treat after a long day, or perhaps, a long night ...
Weird fact: The piñatas in the candy shop next door are a serious contribution to pop art, especially the SpongeBob SquarePants. If you ask nicely like I did, they might even take you inside to meet Donald Trump!
Location: 3752 E. Grant Road
Hours: 6 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, closed Sundays
Payment: cash only