Taco Truck Secrets

By Cyrus Farivar, "The Ultimate Taco," May/June 2010

Discover the secret to making the best tacos in town. Plus: Bruce Aidells shares his recipes.

"These are excellent recipes and real crowd pleasers. I've had nothing but rave reviews every time I've made them. Go to a hispanic grocery to find nearly everything you'll need to make these yummy recipes! "

I’m not a religious person, but if I were, I would belong to the Iglesia de la Troca—the Church of the Taco Truck. Even though I’ve eaten tacos hundreds of times, receiving them from a truck is always a divine experience. When those tacos are presented through that little window, it’s like receiving communion—with a side of jalapeños. I’m not exaggerating about my devotion to taco trucks—I’ve even started a website devoted to all things taco truck.

Recently a friend of mine introduced me to Bruce Aidells, who is a cookbook author and founder of Aidells Sausage Co. My friend knew that Bruce and I share the taco-truck fervor. Bruce visits taco trucks all the time—all in the name of culinary research—so I invited him on a pilgrimage to my favorite taco truck, El Ojo de Agua in Oakland, California. Bruce is an amazing cook (and developed the recipes for this story). I wanted to see what he thought of the food.

taco truck recipe

When we got to the truck we gathered hungrily beneath the order window and I fired off, in the best Spanish I could muster: dos de pastor, dos de carnitas y dos de pescado, por favor! Owner Salvador Anaya, a smiling and gregarious fellow, nodded with approval and took a step back to the grill, dancing between his prep tables, grill and the serving window. We had ordered two of each of these tacos: al pastor, spicy, marinated, grilled pork; luscious carnitas, shredded, slow-cooked pork shoulder with just a tinge of crispness; and juicy grilled fish. Each taco was topped with just a spoonful of salsa and a sprinkle of cilantro and garnished with lime, grilled nopales (cactus), jalapeños, pickled carrots, radishes and fresh cucumber.

Bruce bit into his tacos and he looked happy. “The carnitas is delicious—so fresh-tasting. And the salsa’s bright.” He took another bite and then gave his professional assessment: “It has a nice balance of chile and acidity. Plus I love the presentation with the sliced cucumber and grilled nopales.”

Photo Credit: Martin Sundberg,

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