HIDDEN GEMS, WYOMING’S BEST EATS: Chacho’s Tacos Brings Authentic Southwestern Spice to Laramie
- Published In: Hidden Gems: Wyoming's Best Eats
- Last Updated: Oct 24, 2023
Chacho's Tacos food truck is open four days a week, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. outside Bond's Brewing Company in downtown Laramie. (Photo by Riley Sanchez, courtesy of Chachos Tacos)
By Samuel Gilbert
LARAMIE, Wyo.— In the back patio of Bond’s Brewing Company in downtown Laramie is a food truck serving some of the best tacos and Southwestern fare in all of Wyoming. Chacho’s Tacos, run by classically trained chef Justin Sanchez, sells street tacos, green chili-infused queso, burritos, nachos and the ever-changing “El Jefe” special.
In his third year as executive chef at Altitude Chophouse and Brewery in Laramie, Sanchez began thinking seriously about opening a taco truck in his hometown.
“I was feeling burnt out and ready to do my own thing,” said Sanchez, who previously worked in fine dining restaurants in Colorado and Texas. “We started thinking about what we were good at and what the town needed.”
While in Dallas, Sanchez and his wife, Desiree, became enamored with Mexican street tacos: fresh corn tortillas loaded with meat and topped with onion, cilantro, salsa and other garnishes.
“We would eat that two or three times a week when we were down there,” said Sanchez, 34, the former sous chef at Dakota’s Steakhouse in Dallas. “It was something you don’t see in Laramie often, and we wanted to bring it up here.”
In 2019, the couple purchased a used food truck and opened Chacho’s Tacos, named after their beloved Chihuahua. Four years later, Chacho’s has become a Laramie staple—and part of a burgeoning local food truck scene.
“I’ve come every Tuesday since I moved here,” said Jeff Linder, coach of the University of Wyoming’s basketball team, as he waited for chicken tacos. “They even cater some of our post-game meals.”
Tacos cost $4, and customers choose from honey habanero chicken, carne asada, al pastor pork and the “catch of the day.” Each is served with accompanying garnishes and side salsa.
I sampled three tacos when I visited the food truck. The chicken taco, which happens to be Linder’s favorite, was light and fresh, topped with cilantro, sliced radishes and habanero crema. I added the mild, but flavorful salsa verde made with tomatillos and serrano peppers.
Next, I tried the tacos al pastor, a recipe created by Lebanese immigrants to central Mexico in the early 20th century. The marinated spit-roasted pork is based on lamb shawarma and has a complex smoky sweetness and bright red-orange hue.
Sanchez’s take on tacos al pastor starts with marinating the pork in pineapple juice, guajillo peppers, cumin, oregano, New Mexico chile powder, garlic and the achiote paste, which imparts the iconic color.
The meat is cooked on the flat top until crispy and topped with fresh pineapple salsa. Get the tacos at week’s end, when the pork has had days to soak up all that marinade.
“Friday is a good time,” said Sanchez.
The carne asada taco, my favorite of the three, features grilled skirt steak finished with avocado salsa and queso fresco. The tender charred meat was the perfect base for the complex and fiery scorpion salsa made from a tomato/bell pepper base and the aforementioned peppers.
“We use just a dozen scorpion peppers for five gallons of sauce,” said Sanchez.
Chacho’s Tacos also serves queso, nachos, burritos and bowls. Queso is the top seller, made with white Velveeta cheese, garlic, cumin, habanero, jalapenos and New Mexico green chile peppers. Once a year, a family member travels to Albuquerque to haul a trailer full of fresh green chiles up north.
On my visit, the special was a nacho burrito with ground beef, shredded cheese, pickled jalapeno, queso, jalapeno crema and crushed chips wrapped in a red chile tortilla.
The “Jefe” is where Sanchez’s culinary training shines. Past specials include Mexican street food classics such as elote, churros, sopapillas and chimichangas. Crowd favorites include the jalapeno poppers with tequila blueberry jam, green chile beer-battered cheese curds and seared foie gras, served over Spanish sponge bread with caramelized onions, tequila fig jam and micro arugula.
“The Jefe is where we love to play with flavors and mix things up,” said Desiree, who handles finances, communications and business planning for Chacho’s Tacos. “It’s what sets us apart from others while keeping Justin’s creativity and inspiration alive.”
Chacho’s Tacos, located in the back patio of Bond’s Brewing Company at 411 South 2nd Street, Laramie, Wyoming. Open Tuesday through Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday.