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Aug 31, 2009 01:21 PM

Churros El Tigre and La Fachada- SD

Ever since Masa Assassin posted about Churros El Tigre, I've been dreaming about churros. Unfortunately, July and August were really busy months for me, so I didn't have time to look for the churro cart. Finally, life has settled down and we went churro hunting, only to find nothing.

The cart's location, however, is near La Fachada, so we stopped by for dinner. I had 4 tacos: 2 birria, 1 lengua, and 1 tripa. The tripa was very lightly battered and fried, but still had a bit of a gritty flavor. Good texture, though. The birria was very good, gamey and cooked beautifully, but the lengua was excellent. The cubes of tongue were tender and flavorful, which went well with the delicious tortilla.

The man in charge at La Fachada told us the churro cart disappeared about two weeks ago... he thinks it might be due to permit issues. Buzz on the web says that the owner needed to fix his equipment and might be back mid-September. I'll be back for churros (hopefully) and some more tacos at La Fachada.

Masa Assassin or anyone else... any specifics on the churro cart?

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  1. Hi geeky, unfortunately the churro cart is gone and I doubt he will be back in September but it may be possible. He has been forced to get some costly equipment. I’m glad you at least got to enjoy La Fachada, and if the churro guy gets back up and running I will pass on the info to you.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Masa Assassin

      Thanks, Masa (I left a comment on your blog too... totally overkill, but I was in mourning over a lost churro opportunity). Didn't he already have a fairly new cart? What else would the health dept. force him to get? We were pondering this over dinner at La Fachada and I understand health concerns with street food, but I also have to say that if any microbe survives a deep-frying, it should be allowed to kill us. :P

      On a churro-related note, do you know if the churreria (sp?) in Chula Vista Mall still open? Kare_raisu posted about it a while back.

      1. re: geekyfoodie

        The County Department of Environmental Health requires mobile carts to have to have a source of running water, including hot water. The rules and regs are actually part of CalCode which are the State public health code regulations. There are reams of regs for mobile carts making compliance for the little guys kinda difficult. You don't see many street carts anywhere in CA, the public health regs are one of the reasons. They're extremely tight.

        1. re: DiningDiva

          Whoa! When we were speculating about why the churro cart was shut down, I joked that maybe he had to have a handwash station on his cart (I saw the one in La Fachada's truck). I had no idea I was somewhat close in my guess. It's unfortunate that the rules are so tight, but then again, if the rules didn't exist, there would be a lot of questionable food out there.

          1. re: geekyfoodie

            ...if the rules didn't exist, there would be a lot of questionable food out there." - I am not sure if all such rules are really necessary for such small businesses. I think books like Fast Food Nation clearly show that far more people every year day in the "save and clean" enviroment of fastfood restaurants

            1. re: honkman

              Definitely not saying they are... that was just a broad generalizing statement. In the case of Churros El Tigre, I question the wisdom of having him have a source of running water. The guy had an extruder for his batter and he had hot oil. He wasn't really touching that much of his product, from what I saw in Masa's pictures. Tongs and gloves were in use, I believe, and therefore the running water would be of little use during the operation of his cart (i.e. it's not like he would need to constantly wash his hands or equipment).

              It's really a case by case thing and what I was really trying to point out is that, the more leeway given, the more potential for the really dangerous and crazy instances of poor food maintenance. However, the rules also cater towards the lowest common denominator and plenty of cases that are safe, but not within the rules, often get sucked in at the cost of my churro craving.

              1. re: geekyfoodie

                He's mobile, where does he clean up when he closes? Take it back to his truck? house? other kitchen facility? The purpose of the running water is to provide the ability to clean up, either during operations or afterwards, as well as washing hands. Did you know that in a small operation that does strictly espresso that it must have both a 3-compartment sink and a separate hand washing sink? Talk about overkill. There were probably other compliance issues than just the water source given the hot oil usage. I know with the Temporary Food Facility permit the mobile cart has to be within a certain number of feet from restrooms, for example. Next time you're at a farmers market talk to some of the food vendors (especially the owner operated ones) and ask them about some of the things with which they have to comply. It's a pretty extensive and comprehensive list. A lot of it makes sense, but there are some things on there that will make you shake your head and wonder why too.

                The rules and regs are there for a purpose, to keep the general public safe from as many food borne illnesses as possible, but I tend to agree with Honkman that some of them do seem to be over the top.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  I know what the running water is used for, but it's ridiculous to have a source that moves with you for such a small operation. Wouldn't it be better if he showed that he had a place to clean his equipment and that place (home or whereever) should be held to health code standards? It's insane to have an espresso cart have two sinks... and that's why, as you pointed out, why there's so little street food. With all of the compliance issues, it really wouldn't be a "cart". The sinks alone would take up plenty of room.

                  I don't disagree at all with the point that a lot of the rules are over-the-top and can defy a lot of common sense. Those that make the rules, however, tend to look towards worse-case scenarios and little else. On a parallel note, I work in biotech and it has it's own myriad of safety rules and regs... if we followed them all to the letter, we wouldn't get any work done, but every rule had some sort of precedence for its creation. Food-wise, I guess I just look at it from a consumer's viewpoint... it's annoying to miss out on a good dish because of rules.

                  1. re: geekyfoodie

                    "On a parallel note, I work in biotech and it has it's own myriad of safety rules and regs... if we followed them all to the letter, we wouldn't get any work done, but every rule had some sort of precedence for its creation." - Don't even get me started on all those stupid rules in biotech world. There are so many rules which don't make any sense and slow down my work. I guess that's similar to the food safety regulation in California.

                    1. re: honkman

                      I knew you'd understand the biotech side of it, Honkman. :) But, the rants and raves for that part alone would need its own website.

                    2. re: geekyfoodie

                      Funny story about our health department. We share a kitchen with our neighbors, as I only have to wash knives and cutting boards once a day. When they got their triple sink, it came with decals for the outside to indicate fill levels for the wash tub and rinse tub. No instructions, no codes tell you how much water has to be in the tub or where these decals should be put. So they just slapped them on. They were cited by the health department because when they inspected, the water wasn't up to the fill level decals. Never mind that if they filled them that high, you couldn't wash anything without sloshing water all over the place.

                      That being said, if you're selling food, you're required to have a place where you can wash your hands. Indeed, tough on the little guys.

      2. Churros El Tigere is back on 25 th and Imperial he's back with fresh new churros for all you churro lovers . He reopen he's cart on 01/12/10 he opens at 4pm to 9pm from monday to monday 7 days aweek for five hours . So come and check it out if you never try some now is the time to do so and let us know what you think . *(Churro Hunter)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Churro Hunter

          I've been down to 25th and Imperial a few times since February, usually around 8pm and the cart has not been there. Have they moved again, or did they just vanish? Does anyone have any info?

          1. re: slackademic

            According to Yelp, the new Churros El Tigre cart is operated by the La Palapa market, not the original owner. I haven't been to the cart since it returned, but a friend of mine stopped by about a month ago, around 6 pm. Said the churros were tasty. Hope that helps.

        2. They're also at the Escondido Swat meet on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Great made-to-order churros.