Food culture and the taco underground

The more I explore the concept of “food culture,” the better I understand how that’s defined in the Central Valley. For example, if you’re ordering from a mobile food vendor here (save from Dusty Buns), you’re eating tacos—maybe a burrito, if you’re feeling frisky.

Outside of the valley, food trucks are trending. They provide all of the necessities, like a sink to clean utensils and wash hands, but where’s the fun in that? If you want to be truly mobile, food carts are the way to go; just bring an ice chest for your ingredients, and leave the sink at home.

Saturday night I toured about eight carts (I lost count after the first few) with taco enthusiast connoisseur Mike Oz. I learned a few things:

  • Don’t take pictures, unless you’re ready to assure people that you don’t work for the City or the Health Department.
  • The Tupperware used for the toppings doesn’t come with a sneeze guard, but that’s okay because the salsa’s hot enough to burn through anything harmful.
  • The chances of seeing a kid inside behind the counter are high; some carry their weight, though.
  • Bring cash.

Mike and I will map out Saturday’s journey for those in and around Fresno—the stands aren’t exactly legal, so don’t be surprised to find that one’s moved.

More about our favorite spots is also coming with the launch of Fresno Tacos; more on that, and more photos, later.

10 Responses to “Food culture and the taco underground”

  1. Mike Torosian
    July 20, 2011 at 4:26 am #

    Next time you Taco Tour, I want in!

    • james
      July 20, 2011 at 4:52 am #

      We should set one up.

  2. fresnobites
    July 20, 2011 at 4:31 am #

    Ha! I had the same experience at the Cherry Auction. All the taco vendors thought I was checking permits. The big question is, how were they?

    • james
      July 20, 2011 at 4:52 am #

      Overall, really good – I told Mike that I may like the carts more than the trucks. I don’t remember names for any of them, though, so I’ll have to compare notes with Mike to share favorites.

      • Mike Oz
        July 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

        Names? I those go the way of sinks at most of these carts.
        I know them by cross streets.

  3. Mike Torosian
    July 20, 2011 at 4:33 am #

    Actually I need to take you guys out to Manning and McCall one late night.

    • Mike Oz
      July 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

      Manning Avenue is the next area I want to hit at night. I’ve been out there during the day, but I suspect there are more options at night.

  4. bradley
    July 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    I’m sure you have considered this: are you going to divulge actual locations? virtually every exposé I have read about unlicensed food vendors I have read was quickly followed by a health dept. crackdown. happened in oakland, sf, i assume the same would happen here.

    • bradley
      July 20, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

      whoops, sorry for my redundancy there. you get the gist.

    • james
      July 20, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

      We haven’t talked about the specifics, but we’re (potentially) damned if we do, and just annoying if we don’t – the number one complaint I get when talking positively about a food business is not divulging location, and that’s come up several times in sharing through the Fresno Tacos accounts.

      It’s definitely something to consider, though. Assuming our health department reads the internets 🙂

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