Archive for the ‘California’ Category

Longtime followers of taco trucks issues in the Golden State may remember the veritable bevy of laws that have come and gone that threaten our beloved taqueros. After that, it became clear that taco trucks owners need to get organized.

The old school trucks have formed the aforementioned Asociacíon de Loncheros (which, by the way, is being honored by the LA chapter of the National Lawyers Guild this Sunday night!), while the new school has gotten together to crate the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association. They were the minds behind the ill-fated Santa Monica food truck lot, which lasted just one day.

But it was only a matter of time before one of those groups — both of which registered as 501c6 organizations, which means they are trade associations that can engage in political speech — took on a political stance.

Since late last month, the SCMFVA, which represents a lot of nouveau trucks in downtown LA and on the Westside, have formally endorsed Betsy Butler (D) for the 53rd Assembly District in the California State Assembly.


“She sees the benefit of food trucks in that area,” explained Matt Geller of SCMFVA, in an interview with LAist.

Previously, the SCMFVA endorsed Cary Brazeman for a seat on the Mid-City West Community Council, which is in charge of that oft-conflicted mid-Wilshire district.

So now the question is, how long before we start seeing stance on taco trucks as an item in campaign literature?

Baja Fresh introduces ‘Baja Kogi Gogi’ burrito

Posted by Martin do Nascimento on July 27, 2009

It is unlikely that when William Shakespeare wrote that now famous phrase “what’s in a name?” he had Korean Tacos in mind. Yet, there are hardly better words to express the controversy that has arisen around the word ‘Kogi’ in the world of tacos in the past few weeks.

It is quite possible that frequent readers of this taco-loving publication will recognize the word from a number of Korean taco-related articles recently published herein. Kogi BBQ, the Los Angeles based Korean BBQ taco truck that communicates its location to interested clients via Twitter, has received a lot of face time on this blog and elsewhere as a result of its innovative adaptation of Korean BBQ to the taco and the taco truck. Not only has the concept inspired some taco lovers to attempt to replicate Kogi BBQ’s recipes at home–especially we taco-deprived easterners–but it has even resulted in the spawning operations (see May 13th and May 31st posts).

Amazingly, some non-wheeled taco establishments have even begun picking up on Korean BBQ tacos. Recently, Baja Fresh the ubiquitous 300+ unit Tex-Mex burrito-and-taquería announced that it would begin serving its own version of Korean BBQ tacos under the name ‘Baja Kogi,’ as evidenced in the photo above.

Were it the case that Baja Fresh were simply adopting the Korean taco from Kogi BBQ as has already been done by other taquerías, what has become a major controversy may never have reached this blog as it there would have been no question as to the legality of the Baja Fresh’s actions. The origin of the controversy is to be found, however, in the adoption of not only the style of taco but also its name ‘kogi’ by Baja Fresh.

As I’m told, many copyright infringement proceedings are clear-cut cases, this one is not due to the meaning of the word Kogi in Korean: meat (고기). Does Kogi BBQ have exclusive rights to the word as a consequence of being the first firm to offer the Korean BBQ taco under that name? Whereas a word such as ‘meat’ or ‘vegetable’ could never be copyrighted in English, does the fact that the word ‘kogi’ is more widely recognized as a brand name than as a word mean that it is trademark infringement? These are questions that remain to be answered.

Update 9:35 am Pacific: Melanie Wong points out that Baja Fresh is now calling them ‘Baja Gogi‘ and not Baja Kogi. According to LAist, Chuck Rink, president of Fresh Enterprises, which owns Baja Fresh, released a statement clarifying what his company is doing:

Baja Fresh wants to clarify that our Korean BBQ style “Kogi” chicken and beef tacos and burritos, concept testing right now in one Irvine store, was by no means intended to seem “stolen” from the famous LA-area Kogi taco truck.

Rather, we were under the impression that “Kogi” was the generic word for Korean BBQ style. We have since learned “Gogi” is the general word and will be moving to change our naming to Gogi, for the Irvine store, and for any future roll outs of these products.

I’m still not sure what the difference between a “generic word” and a “general word” are, but whatev. -CF

Vallejo Taco Trucks: Chowing down Sonoma Blvd.

Posted by Martin do Nascimento on June 5, 2009

Driving back to the Bay Area from Sonoma, Cyrus, Dallas, and I made a series of pit stops at a number of Sonoma’s and Vallejo’s best taco trucks.

Energy levels ran high as we pulled off Route 12 on to the gravel parking lot where the Tacos El Gitano truck was parked. Digging in to our six tacos (‘cos) al pastor we were pleasantly surprised by the grilled onions and spicy salsa verde that almost made up for the luke warm meat stuffs. The sope de carnitas proved more interesting with heaps of lettuce, pinto beans, salsa, cheese on its slightly toasted tortilla. All in all, Tacos El Gitano was nothing phenomenal but a good beginning to our dining experience.

Our second stop, Tacos Dos Hermanos, offered much more in the way of tacos al pastor. We also enjoyed an array of well done carnitas cos dripping with a sauce of the combined runoff of freshly squeezed limes, salsa verde and spicy meat juices. Over an unremarkable ceviche tostada livened up by some ripe avocado and a round of horchatas, our crew compared this truck to the last and found the comida of Dos Hermanos to be unequivocally more tasty than those of El Gitano. Still, the location–off busy Route 29 in Vallejo in the Vallejo Furniture parking lot — left a fair deal to be desired. The horchata was also pretty watery.

The gang’s last stop, also off of Route 29 in Vallejo, was Tacos Guadalajara. Having read that Guadalajara’s ‘cos al pastor are not to be missed (and our bellies nearly replete) we ordered two a piece and dug in. Guadalajara’s ‘cos were slightly less salty than those of the previous stops but equally crispy as those of Dos Hermanos. Furthermore, Guadalajara had the added appeal of offering great salsa rojo, rich horchata, and a more appealing ambiance than either of the previous two stops–a pair of benches set under a shady tree just of route 29.

Bellies full, piling back into our old, grey Corolla, mouths burning from the pickled peppers we’d just eaten, we resumed our journey towards the Bay Area, and a wedding!

Tacos El Gitano
21040 Broadway (Route 12)
Sonoma (in front of Sonoma Materials)

Tacos Dos Hermanos
Corner of Sereno & Sonoma Blvd (Hwy 29)

Tacos Guadalajara
Corner of Ohio & Sonoma Blvd (Hwy 29)

Ramon’s Tacos in Planada, CA

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on January 11, 2009

Reader Lisa Perry writes that Ramon’s Tacos in Planada, CA is her favorite local joint.

“The carne asada tacos are the best! The big chunk of avocado they put on the tacos is my favorite part! My co-worker likes the al pastor tacos and he says their salsa is what makes their food the best!”

I’ve added it to JLT’s YumTacos map — and recently have made additions in Washington, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

If there’s a taco truck that you know about that’s not on this map, be sure to let me know, and ideally send us a photo and a brief description so we can check it out. Gracias!

Save Sacramento’s Taco Trucks

Posted by jlt on July 17, 2008

In addition to the mother of all taco truck maps, Yum Tacos is also hosting a petition to relax the Sacramento City Council’s recent decision to basically outlaw taco trucks in that fair city. By restricting them to 30 minutes per location – the amount of time it takes to lock down, set up, and get the grill going – they’ve effectively made it impossible for any mobile vendor of hot food to do business. In addition to many hungry Sacramentans of all classes and races, Sacramento’s taco trucks specifically serve many second and third-shift workers – cops, hospital workers, warehouse employees – who don’t have any other choices available late at night. Please do take a few minutes to go and add your name to the petition!

Taft, Calif.: Taco truck stays at Fort

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on May 20, 2008

My friends, taco trucks are not just under attack in Los Angeles, but also in Taft, Calif., just outside Bakersfield.

Apparently in the late 1930s, a replica of Sutter’s Fort (in Sacramento, Calif.) was constructed in the fair city of Taft. While it’s not immediately clear to me why a 19th century fort needed to be rebuilt 300 miles away in a small town of less than 10,000 people, that’s not the point here. The point here is that for now, a taco truck called Janie’s Mexican food is being allowed to stay, after being under threat by the city. Again, city staff alleged that it had an “unfair advantage” than traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants. How is selling a better product at a lower price “unfair” ? Please.

Here’s the Taft Midway Driller:

The business, which serves food out of a trailer, was in danger of being forced to leave its place in the Fort’s parking lot when Taft City staff decided it was not in compliance with city codes and had an unfair advantage over businesses in permanent buildings.

But the staff reversed their recommendation Tuesday night and the Taft planning Commission voted 4-0 to approve a precise development permit to allow the trailer to park at the Fort on weekdays to sell tacos and other Mexican food for at least one more year. The vote came after Commissioner Curtis Walchock offered a compromise – approve her permit for a year. By that time, City planner Lawrence Tomasello had told the commission, the city will have a new code to permit temporary business on an annual basis for up to five years.

If they approved the trailer with no time provisions, Tomasello said, she said have permanent status.

Tomasello quickly would staff would change it’s recommendation with that provision.

California and LA County Taco Truck Law Reference

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on May 19, 2008

Just to be clear, when referring to the relevant portions of the California Vehicle Code and the Los Angeles County Code applicable to taco trucks, here is the actual text of the law:

California Vehicle Code 22455:

Vending from Vehicles

22455. (a) The driver of any commercial vehicle engaged in vending upon a street may vend products on a street in a residence district only after bringing the vehicle to a complete stop and lawfully ( )1 parking adjacent to the curb, consistent with the requirements of Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 22500) and local ordinances adopted pursuant thereto.

(b) ( )2 Notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 114315 of the Health and Safety Code or any other provision of law, a local authority may, by ordinance or resolution, adopt additional requirements for the public safety regulating the type of vending and the time, place, and manner of vending from vehicles upon any street.

Amended Sec. 3, Ch. 139, Stats. 2008.

Effective January 1, 2009.
The 2008 amendment added the italicized material, and at the point(s) indicated, deleted the following:

1. “parked”
2. “A local authority may, by ordinance or resolution, adopt additional requirements for the public safety regulating any type of vending from vehicles upon any street.”

And the newly adopted Los Angeles County Code 7.62.070:

7.62.070 Peddlers of edible products from commercial vehicles–Moving location required when.

A person engaged in the business of peddling liquids or edibles for human consumption from commercial vehicles used for the transportation and/or the preparation of food, either retail or wholesale, pursuant to a license obtained pursuant to this chapter, shall not remain or permit such vehicle to remain in any one location for the purpose of sale or display of such liquids or edibles for more than 30 minutes in a residential zone, or 60 minutes in a non-residential zone, during any three-hour period and shall not return to any location within one-half mile of each prior location where the person sold or displayed liquids or edibles within said three-hour period. Said three-hour period shall commence upon the Peddler’s departure from the last location where peddling occurred. Any person described in this section, during all of the time which he or she is at any such location, shall maintain the location in a neat and orderly condition, pick up and dispose in a sanitary manner all debris, garbage, papers, litter and other things which detract from the sanitation, safety and appearance of such premises, and otherwise comply with the California Health and Safety Code. (Ord. 2008-0013 § 5, 2008: Ord. 92-0132 § 47, 1992: Ord. 8424 § 1, 1963: Ord. 8285 § 1, 1962: Ord. 5860 Ch. 2 Art. 12 § 604, 1951.)