"Taco trucks” (or “taco trailers") have become ubiquitous in Texas cities such as Houston and Austin, and in cities all throughout the United States. The taco trucks are inexpensive and mobile, providing cheap food to immigrants and natives as well.
Mobile kitchens in Texas date back to the 1860s and the “chuck wagon” (or “mess wagon”). Modern forms include the “tailgate picnic” associated with football games. The lunch wagons or “dog wagons” of the 1890s helped popularize the “hot dog.”
Chile stands and tamale stands were popular mobile food in the 1890s. However, towards the end of the 20th century, most of the (mostly Mexican) mobile kitchens would feature the taco. The alliteration of “taco truck” won out. Few (if any) of the vehicles are called “tamale trucks” or “chili trucks” or “burrito trucks” or “enchilada trucks.”
The taco trucks are also called in Spanish “loncheras” or “loncherias”—lunch wagons. A popular—though unfortunate—nickname of many of these vehicles is “roach coach.”
Wikipedia: Food truck
A mobile kitchen, known colliqually in some regions as an “X" Truck, is a mobile venue that sells food. Some, including ice cream trucks, sell mostly frozen or prepackaged food; others are more like restaurants-on-wheels. Food trucks make frequent appearances at carnivals, construction sites, and other temporary venues where large numbers of people gather.
Some college campuses and surrounding areas boast many food trucks with loyal followings; for example, visitors to the University of Pennsylvania/Drexel University/La Salle University in Philadelphia or Harvard University or MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts may see some very popular trucks parked outside the main entrances to buildings at lunchtime.
In the United Kingdom, these are known as burger vans and can be found on nearly all major trunk roads at the side of the road selling their food. A 1/4lb burger can be purchased for about £2 (approx. $3.5USD). Many people prefer to stop at one of these Burger vans when travelling due to the cheap price, rather than stop at a motorway service station where prices can be extremely high.
Sometimes also called “maggot wagon,” “roach coach,” “vomit comet”, or “gut truck,” these rolling restaurants can frequently be found at or near construction sites.
An early version of the food truck was the US Army’s mobile canteen and before that the old West’s chuckwagon.
Ethnic food trucks
Taco trucks are mobile kitchens that exclusively serve Mexican food. The staple foods of taco trucks are burritos, quesadillas, and tacos. The burrito usually comes in at least two variations, Super Burrito and regular. They are characteristic of cities in the United States with large Latino populations, mainly the southwest and especially Southern California. They can be found, most often, in the inner city, parked in private parking lots. Taco trucks have been mentioned in the Zagat Survey and the Los Angeles Times. These trucks are commonly called “loncheras”.
10 April 1955, Suburbanite Economist (Chicago, IL), pg. 25, col. 6 ad:
HOT dog & tamale truck, all equipd.
6820 S. Vincennes
21 November 1966, New York (NY) Times, “From a Taste of a Taco, a New Shop” by Craig Claiborne, pg. 58:
THE sign in the window says “Chile Today and Hot Tamale” and one of the owners, Mrs. Helen Swenson, explains that it’s only a joke. What they really sell are tacos and tortillas, and the name of this new establishment in Riverdale is Tic-Taco. And that’s no joke.
Out front there is a small yellow and orange taco truck with a canopy fringed with cotton pompons. It travels about the neighborhood purveying the company product (there are visions of such taco trucks throughout Manhattan), and it is a part of the plan to rent the truck for parties. Complete, of course, with the tacos, fillings and so forth. The rental cost for a party, Mrs. Winslow explained, would be about $50.
Tic-Taco has been open for six weeks and customers started placing orders for New Year parties more than a month ago.
11 October 1974, Middlesboro (KY) Daily News, pg. 11, col. 3 ad:
Buster’s Hot Tamale Truck Will Be Parked at Little League Ball Park Every Day from 5 p.m.to 8 p.m.
1 April 1975, Hayward (CA) Daily Review, pg. 1, col. 3:
Somehow an erroneous report was circulated in the press that the bed hit a taco truck in Visalia.
Actually it was the motor home, and what got hit was a taco sign and not a taco truck.
The Creature Features Movie Guide, Or, An A to Z Encyclopedia to the Cinema of the Fantastic
by John Stanley
Pacifica, CA: Creatures at Large
Bert I. Gordon’s sequel to AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN finds ever-growing Army colonel not destroyed at Boulder Dam but in Mexico, snatching taco trucks off ...
The Delta Star
by Joseph Wambaugh
New York, NY: W. Morrow
Five minutes later, after having disposed of the gallows and rope while The Bad Czech ate a beef-and-bean burrito from a taco truck, the old beat cop cadged…
One Chicano’s Vision of Progressive Law Practice
by Gerald P. Lopez
Boulder, CO: Westview Press
She walks to her office each morning and gets her lunch from La Frontera (the local taco truck) nearly every day.
24 January 1993, New York (NY) Times, “Pasadena” (CA), pg. XX16:
For inexpensive, fiery, salty Mexican, if you can’t find the Taco Truck (location changes) go to Tacos Buenos at 1308 North Lake Avenue, (818) 797-5941.
25 August 1993, New York (NY) Times, “Kiss Those Burritos Adios! Real Mexican Food Is Here” by Molly O’Neill, pg. C6:
But even as similar taquerias begin to appear around St. Ann’s Avenue in the Bronx and in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, the most apt symbol of authentic Mexican food in New York remains the Taco Truck.
It parks at 96th and Broadway when Club Broadway features Mexican dancing on Sunday nights. It plies 207th Street on Sunday afternoons when the Mexican soccer league plays in Fort Tryon Park, and Sunset Park on Saturdays when the Mexican baseball teams pitch and swat. It parks in front of Roseland, the churches that Mexicans attend and the neighborhood fiestas. Mexican New York remains an itinerant society; there are more and more outposts, but no single center.
(OCLC WorldCat record)
Title: King planet :
short stories and poems /
Author(s): Abee, Steve.
Publication: San Diego, CA : Incommunicado Press,
Description: 143 p. ; 22 cm.
Contents: 7-11—Fishman on the bus—Poetry makes wine—Gasoline in the twenty-fourth hour—Woolworth’s—Notes at sunset—Los Feliz TV repair—Four-story apartment windows—Du-Par’s Coffee Shop ladies—Parking lot poem—McDonald’s—Taco truck…
26 March 1997, New York (NY) Times, “And for dinner? How about fun?” by Ruth Reichl, pg. C6:
The upscale stuff served in New York’s Mexican restaurants just doesn’t satisfy me the way any Los Angeles taco truck can. When I am in Los Angeles I stop in at every taco stand I pass.
by Roger Keil
New York, NY: J. Wiley
Taco Trucks: The Automobilization of Accultured Consumption
10 November 2002, New York (NY) Times, “Taco Trucks And Language Barriers (letter), pg. CY13:
For me, the Super Tacos truck at 96th Street and Broadway is the best eating place in a neighborhood of mediocre restaurants and overpriced delis. Residents who complain about the taco truck should pay a visit. They would find a half-dozen hard-working people running an operation with the efficiency a corporation could only dream of, a place where “please” and “tank you” come with every order, from servers and customers alike.
Maybe the real problem for those opposed to the taco truck is that such phrases are usually said in Spanish.’
Upper West Side
8 June 2004, New York (NY) Times, “Bloomberg Seeks to Toughen Code for Noise in City” by Jennifer Steinhauer, pg. A1:
Ice cream trucks, accustomed to inching down city streets bleating out-of-tune childhood ditties, would have to lose their soundtracks by 2006, replacing them with the little bells of yore. (Taco trucks would the same fate.)
H Texas Online (September 2004)
Taco Keto (taco truck)
Taco trucks are an urban phenomenon where one will find office workers and construction workers standing shoulder to shoulder at stainless steel counters at lunchtime. Gourmets might scoff at these mobile taquerias, but those in the know appreciate the low-cost, high-flavor lunch fare that taco trucks serve around the city. Cullen and Leeland
Austin Chronicle (August 11, 2006)
The Taco Kings, Besieged
Street vendors straddle the line between street life and neighborhoods
BY MICHAEL MAY
The four members of AVATACO, a newly formed association of Austin taco stand owners, spill out of a van on the corner of Cesar Chavez and Pleasant Valley and approach the Piedras Negras taco stand. It’s part of a weeklong effort to contact every taco trailer in the city, and it’s clear they mean business. They’re all wearing pressed white button-down shirts with a photo ID dangling from the lapel, a taco insignia on the back and, above that, in large block letters “AVATACO.” That’s not quite an acronym for the organization’s full name, Associacion de Vendores Ambulantes en Trailers de Comida en la Cuidad de Austin: the Austin Association of Mobile Trailer Food Vendors.
Yet for the most part, Rodriguez embraces the new regulations. In the two decades since he opened his first trailer, he’s watched taco stands crop up wherever there are hungry Austinites and an open slab of pavement, sometimes only a neglected patch of grass. The reason for the boom is obvious. Immigrants are flooding into Austin, increasing the demand for quick and inexpensive (and Mexican) food, and there are few businesses that you can start with such a small investment. “There are people in Austin now that can make you a trailer for $6,000,” he says.
Best Food Wiriting 2007
edited by Holly Hughes
Da Capo Press
Las Fabulosas Taco Trucks
by Robb Walsh
from Houston Weekly
The taco truck has a long history in Texas. Cowboy chuck wagons, which were often manned by Mecian cocineros, appeared on the scene in the 1860s. Spanish vaqueros used mobile kitchens moutned on oxcarts on the earliest trail drives in the 1700s. Tamale carts and other mobile food vendors were also very common in Texas before the sanitary laws of the Progressive Era were enacted in the early 1900s.
But the first actual taco trucks in Texas were Model T Fords. One such early taco truck can be seen in a 1939 black-and-white photograph by famous WPA photographer Russell Lee. The photo is titled “Mexican lunch wagon serving tortillas and fried beans to workers in pecan shelling plant, San Antonio, Texas.”
Modern taco trucks are a variation of the panel trucks known in various parts of the country as “Maggot wagons, “"grease trucks’ and “roach coaches.” These mobile canteens were easily adapted to the street food traditions of the Latino communities of the Southwest, where they became known as loncherias.
In Texas, the taco trailer is increasingly popular as a lower-cost alternative to the taco truck. The trailer is hauled back and forth to a commissary by another vehicle, generally a heavy-duty pickup truck.
Oakland: The Soul of the City Next Door
by Serena Bartlett
Oakland, CA: GrassRoutes Travel
Burritos and Tortas (Mexican sandwiches) are also on the menu, but there is a good reason they’re called taco trucks, tacos are what they do best.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Thursday, December 27, 2007 • Permalink