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Jun 19, 2007 09:46 AM

SJ MERC Editorial:All food lovers should have choice of where they eat tacos

Today's San Jose Mercury News editorial takes a stand supporting food lovers right to choose. The opinion piece describes the clash of cultures in Salinas and concludes,

" The current vendors deserve a chance to make a living and pay off their trucks. For many, the mobile food business is a giant step up from field work. And consumers deserve a choice on whether they want to eat sitting down in a restaurant or standing by the side of the road. Deciding when, where and how to eat tacos is a basic American freedom."

Huzzah to Julie, Carolyn, Aleta, Laurie, and the other chowhounds at the Merc for standing up for the interests of taco consumers everywhere!

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    1. My favorite line was ...

      "It's a culinary crime, write furious food bloggers, who consider Salinas the mecca of fine taco truck dining."

      Which is so true. Seriously, as I've said elsewhere. It is the one reason I would get off the freeway when I am driving through that area. Once in town I'm likely to buy gas or make other purchases.

      For anyone who hasn't read about the food here's a link to a great Chow story that has links to further info.

      Interesting about that quote that the taco truck owners want to work those hours. No one is stopping them now, yet they are open days. As I've also said, it is very likely I'll stop in Salinas for the taco food, but only during the day. I'm not that familiar with the town and I'm hardly going to be detouring off the freeway at 2 in the morning.

      Krys Stanley, San Pablo, Ca

      1. I think it is open season on Taco Trucks. The same issue is also being debated in Lodi and other environs:

        4 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I think that you should be able to buy your tacos whenever and whereever you want.
            There is one taco truck here in Schertz on FM78,haven't tried it yet,plus a new tacquaria on Main Street here in town.There is La Reyna Tacos which i see drive around here.The driver lives in Universal City cause i see the truck parked outside the guys house.I think they mainly go to construction sites and places like that cause I never see the truck parked at the side of the road.
            There are probablely more taco trucks in San Antonio,mostly on the west and southside of town. No one in San Antonio or Houston that I know of complains about the trucks.When my sister would go to Brownsville with some friends,they would stay with Leticia's relatives,who would cross the border all the time.Her uncle works for the Border patrol. My sister liked to eat at the little taco stands on the street in Mattamorse and when we went to Nuevo Laredo once on a trip,was disappointed not to find the stands like they had in Mattamorse.(Sorry for the misspelling).Of course since it was a trip sponsored by San Antonio College,we didn't wander off the beaten path much.

            1. re: HollyDolly

              Thank you for the view from Texas. One other thing about this issue that irks me is that I know that if a genuine Tuscan showed up with a porchetta truck roasting suckling pigs or perhaps one of those Swiss chicken rotisserie trucks operated by someone with a French accent such as you find along the roadways in Europe, it wouldn't be a problem at all. One of my friends suggested that I costume the taco truck operators in lederhosen and teach them to yodel to gain acceptance. Maybe I should teach the al pastor guys how to make gyros on a spit and that will fly. The Tacos Acambaro wagon already has a rotating spit set up!

            2. re: Melanie Wong

              Melanie, I really appreciated the editorial and for me the last two sentences sum up how I feel about the issue. I think it is sort of an "Animal Farm" mentality on the part of the anti-taco truck crowd: everyone is entitled to capitalism but some are more entitled than others. It truly irks me.

          2. I'm basically for freedom of business to operate so long as its done safely.

            I object to the characterization of the ability to buy tacos in different places as a "basic American freedom." It loses the central point of the issue: the vendors and their ability to make a living. Ultimately, no matter where you buy your taco, you can eat it wherever you want anyhow.

            The proposal in Salinas sounds fairly absurd to me as far as I understand it. But lets not go overboard on basic freedoms about tacos.

            1. Here's a link to a blog entry from a law firm for the restaurant and foodservice industries (not involved in the Salinas case). The have represented Jack in the Box, Carrows, Coco's, El Torito, etc, etc.

              Scroll down to
              Tuesday, June 19, 2007
              John Steinbeck's hometown of Salinas is going after the little guy

              It questions whether the City Council has ever read any of the novels of the writer their town seeks to promote because if they did "they'd realize their actions are betraying the very heart and soul of their most famous son."

              Commenting on Chris Callihan who said that the city council doesn't want to put the trucks out of business just move them indoors, the blog says ... "For those who don't know, that's bureaucrat-ese for "yes, we want to put these people out of business."

              They end by asking the restaurants protesting the unfair competition will next as to ban Del Taco.

              Another blog says "Leaving aside the assumption that the government should protect Campos' livelihood by banning his competition, it's not as if a taco truck is completely interchangeable with a Mexican restaurant. " About Callihan's wanting to move the taco trucks to Brick and Mortar businesses, it brings up the point about what would happen if the reverse happened ... the B&M's were reguired to close down and open taco trucks.

              The Taco Truck Menace

              The local Bay Area CBS station ran a segment recently.