Tonight Is Taco Truck Night in LA!

taco truck nightMy friend Evan at Hot Knives pointed this out to me: in light of the recent legislation that could potentially punish taco truck owners with jail time if they linger in one location too long, tonight’s been dubbed Taco Truck Night. The organizers at saveourtacotrucks.org hold forth thusly:

As mentioned in The Los Angeles Times, to celebrate this year’s May Day we’re announcing Taco Truck Night. Take your family, your friends, or anybody else who loves tacos. Go out, get some carne asada or al pastor and support your local hard working taco vendor.

While you’re there be sure to hand out some posters and tell your fellow Angelenos what’s happening to our beloved Taco Trucks. We’re looking to raise awareness in the community as well as provide a nice cash infusion to the hard working men and women who labor into the early hours to keep our bellies full.

Below [click here for map] are some suggestions for taco trucks throughout the greater Los Angeles area. This list is by no means exclusive so strike out and explore a little. Know a great truck? List it on our petition. You can also try the venerable Great Taco Hunt for more suggestions.

Aaron and I will be stuffing our faces with Asada and Carnitas at the La Estrella on York and Ave 54 around 8 PM. Hope to see some of you there!”

I heard a discussion of this on indie103.1 this morning, and they mentioned how the brick-and-mortar restaurant lobby may be behind much of the legislation push. What do you guys think? Should the landed restaurants get a break in the form of this legislation? Or are you of the mind that “if they served better tacos, we’d go to their restaurants, but they don’t, so we’re going to the trucks.”…?

23 Replies to “Tonight Is Taco Truck Night in LA!”

  1. I received an email yesterday from the office of Gloria Molina (about two weeks after I wrote her)which seems to claim that this will only be applicable in unincorporated areas (see below). Is this just spin from Supervisor Molina or am I misunderstanding something?

    Here is the email I received:

    Thank you for contacting my office to share your views regarding the
    proposed changes to the Los Angeles County peddling ordinance. Please be
    aware that this ordinance is effective only in the unincorporated areas
    of Los Angeles County and it will become effective after May 15, 2008.

    The changes to the ordinance allow vendors to remain in one location in
    a commercial zone for one hour, which is one-half hour longer than
    permitted under the existing ordinance. Los Angeles County is not the
    only jurisdiction that places time restrictions on vending; cities that
    border the unincorporated areas have similar restrictions.

    Although not everyone is pleased with this ordinance, please be aware
    that sidewalk vending has never been permitted in Los Angeles County.
    Our ordinance is a compromise that will allow vending in a manner that
    protects the health and welfare of our residents, and respects the needs
    of our business community.

    I appreciate your taking the time to express your views. If you require
    additional assistance with a County-related matter, please do not
    hesitate to contact my office at (323) 881-4601. Thank you.

  2. Taco truck: Burrito that I can barely finish because it’s so huge $4.25. I get it in 10 minutes.

    Restaurant: Skimpy burrito for $5.95 – $7.95. I’ll have to wait up to 20 minutes to get my order taken, and another 20 – 30 minutes to get my skimpy burrito, which has a 78% chance of being cold.

    Is there really a choice?

  3. I don’t think it is so much an issue of “better taco” as opposed to easier on the wallet and convenient.

    I understand both sides of the story. The guy doing his restaurant has a lot invested into his business and doesn’t need renegades next to hime undercutting his price. However those renegades in the taco trucks seem to be there right now when you need a taco.

    I would like to see a compromise or two tossed out. Some distance from the traditional store fronts so it isn’t a direct traffic draw.

  4. Okay, while it’s not a question of whether taco trucks should stay or go (stay!), I think some people are confused about the dilemma here.

    “Taco truck: Burrito that I can barely finish because it’s so huge $4.25. I get it in 10 minutes.

    Restaurant: Skimpy burrito for $5.95 – $7.95. I’ll have to wait up to 20 minutes to get my order taken, and another 20 – 30 minutes to get my skimpy burrito, which has a 78% chance of being cold.”

    It seems like the above person is referring to a restaurant like El Conquestador (sp?) or El Compadre, which is a mid-range sit down dining situation.

    BUT, if you think of a situation where a taco truck is parked right in front of a place like El Acator, King Taco (which started as a truck), El Gran Burrito, La Estrella (which has their own trucks as well), etc. it’s a situation where the restaurant is serving food of a similar style and price-range, but due to the overhead of rent there’s no way they can compete completely with the price. So it’s a trade-off, pay a dollar more and sit inside. Whatever. The point is investing in a restuarant is a huge risk, and I think it’s fair to at least ask the taco trucks to park, let’s say a block from potentially competing establishments.

    The current measure, however, is a really punative and round about way to address the problem, and pits people against each other who should be in the same community and on the same side.

  5. hindinwood…sorry, but you wouldn’t catch me dead in any of those places–that’s not food they serve there. ;)

    I’m not referring to Hecho en Mexico where you can die from waiting and the burritos cost a bit more. I’m talking about the small mom-and-pop restaurants over here on the eastside that tend to close at 6 or 7pm (or whenever they feel like). I’m sitting here eating a burrito right now, from a place that closes around 6pm. I called in my order and I still had to wait almost 5 minutes just to get a small bag of chips to go. Our meal for 3 (no drinks) cost $27–which isn’t bad. If I got this same meal at the taco truck tonight, it would have costs me $14 or $18 with drinks.

    As for location, I don’t know about everywhere else, but here on Huntington Dr. the location of the taco trucks seems to have been agreed upon. The same 5 trucks park in the same location nightly. They’re not sitting right where the restaurants are at all and they don’t even show up until 5 or 6pm. It may be different in other areas of LA.

  6. Since I can’t come up with an appropriate analogy I’ll just say that going out to eat tonight at a taco truck in an incorporated area of Los Angeles County to protest the proposed legislation covering unincorporated areas (see list below) is just like being a big stupidhead who lives on stupidheadstreet in stupidheadtown USA. Yeah!

    So get thee to a taco truck in:

    * Acton
    * Agoura
    * Agua Dulce
    * Alondra Park
    * Altadena
    * Antelope Acres
    * Athens
    * Avocado Heights
    * Baldwin Hills
    * Bassett
    * Big Mountain Ridge
    * Big Pines
    * Big Rock
    * Bouquet Canyon
    * Castaic
    * Castaic Junction
    * Charter Oak
    * Citrus
    * Cornell
    * Del Aire
    * Del Sur
    * Del Valle
    * Desert View Highlands
    * East Compton
    * East La Mirada
    * East Los Angeles
    * East Pasadena
    * East San Gabriel
    * Florence-Graham
    * Hacienda Heights
    * Juniper Hills
    * Kinneloa Mesa
    * La Crescenta-Montrose
    * Ladera Heights
    * Lake Hughes
    * Lake Los Angeles
    * Lennox
    * Leona Valley
    * Littlerock
    * Llano
    * Marina del Rey
    * Mayflower Village
    * North El Monte
    * Pearblossom
    * Quartz Hill
    * Rowland Heights
    * South San Gabriel
    * South San Jose Hills
    * South Whittier
    * Stevenson Ranch
    * Topanga
    * Val Verde
    * Valinda
    * Valyermo
    * View Park-Windsor Hills
    * Vincent
    * Walnut Park
    * West Athens
    * West Carson
    * West Compton
    * West Puente Valley
    * West Whittier-Los Nietos
    * Westmont
    * Willowbrook

  7. These same “native Angelenos” and “hipster population” types who rag endlessly on and on about global warming and carbon footprints are obviously willing to look the other way when it comes to these “poor, defenseless taco trucks.” Their hypocrisy is beyond belief.

    Are we living in a 21st Century city or a Third World backwater?

    Taco Trucks…

    Honestly, the some of things “native Angelenos” choose to get their panties-in-a-wad over can be embarrassingly-laughable.

  8. That’s an impressive misuse of quotation marks up there.

    Will I Am – Thanks for the list of unincorporated areas. Maybe I’ll see you and the rest of the hipster population over at the taco truck.

  9. “I’m talking about the small mom-and-pop restaurants over here on the eastside that tend to close at 6 or 7pm (or whenever they feel like). I’m sitting here eating a burrito right now, from a place that closes around 6pm. I called in my order and I still had to wait almost 5 minutes just to get a small bag of chips to go. Our meal for 3 (no drinks) cost $27–which isn’t bad. If I got this same meal at the taco truck tonight, it would have costs me $14 or $18 with drinks”

    faboomama I hear ya, but apparently we are dealing with two different situations. The areas I frequent (downtown, Northeast LA, East Hollywood) have plenty of taco-truck style restaurants that stay open as late as 3 or 4am or even 24 hours. On main for example, there’s an amazing taco truck (cactus burritos!) that just started parking right across the street from a little taco stand that also stays open late. I can see how that person would be a little annoyed, no? In the long run it would be nice to have BOTH, not either or. So maybe a block down would be reasonable in situations where hours are similar? Other than that, many taco trucks park in parking lots, and are always there, and are not near restaurants, so in that case yeah let sleeping dogs lie…

  10. That’s an impressive misuse of quotation marks up there.

    Impressive because I took them directly from the LA Times article or impressive because I’m such a virulent taco truck denier?

    You do realize that, while you’re enjoying that delicious taco, a polar bear is drowning? ; )

  11. There’s always a truck by the Target on Vineland just off Victory.

    Grab you some new white tees and meat in a shell 818! Represent!

  12. aye aye aye, I have had many a good taco off a taco truck. I just don’t want them having an advantage over the brick and mortar stores that also have families and trying to make a go of it.

  13. Beck can’t eat tacos from taco trucks, he risks clogging his physical body with impurities and toxins that would impede his progress along The Bridge.

  14. @hindiwood: Okay, I totally know what you mean. We’re talking past each other here. Over in Lincoln Heights is a taco stand that stays open pretty late. Around 10pm, I can count about 4 taco trucks in the vicinity, and 3 of those mysteriously appearing grills that sprout in between buildings and parking lots. And yes, even then, I thought, “Man, that sucks for that taco stand owner.”, but the “realistic” part of me thought, “Oh well, maybe they should serve better food.” :P

    W. Campbell: Thanks for the list. I was just talking to a friend of mine and we mentioning how we should go out to look for a taco truck in East Pasadena after 6pm. I have never seen a taco truck in Rowland Heights, and I’ve seen in them in Hacienda Heights during the day time when they park outside the business parks.

  15. Just in the interest of being real: there’s no “may” about it. It is the brick-and-mortar restaurant industry (or to be more precise, that segment of the b&m restaurant industry that would otherwise have to compete with taco trucks) behind this. I promise you, the Board of Supervisors was not being flooded with frantic phone calls from ordinary citizens complaining about the availability of inexpensive al pastor burritos.

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