I still drive fifty miles one way to East L.A to hit the taquero stands on Whittier or Olympic Boulevards. I have memories as a kid driving late at night with my day to grab a few tacos. I would order my normal asada and El Pastor and my dad would get his cabeza and cesos. Yeah, my dad was just a little more adventurous than I was. You can smell the food from a half a block away. The taquero was normally parked in an auto shop parking lot and cars would be parked all over. Someone was usually having a beer with their food and blasting their car stereo.
We had our regular taquero, he was parked on the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Mc Donnelle Avenue right across the street from Oscar De La Hoya’s house. I would sometimes see him and his family enjoying a taco or two. The cops even ate at these places, these where hardworking people trying to make an honest living. They are so respected even the crooks wouldn’t rob them; everyone in the barrio knew to leave them alone. East L.A. wouldn’t be East L.A. without seeing taqueros, paleteros, eloteros and the family selling aguas frescas or the people selling oranges and flowers on the streets.
Currently the City of Los Angeles tickets these people and sometimes they confiscate their carts that they work so hard to save up and purchase. The city has way bigger issues than someone trying to make an honest living the only way they can. Yet they let people panhandle for money and don’t make them move or ticket them. Any chance I have, I go and spend my money where I know people appreciate it and need it. I take corporate clients to eat at these eateries and they are dumbfounded by the quality and quantity they get for the money. When I take them to lunch or dinner the looks on their faces is priceless. The best part is the look on their faces when they try the food and get to talking to the cook and the people around them. For that reason and many more I will support these eatery stands because they are a staple of our Latino culture.
by Rolando Ortiz