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What $10 Gets You at a Taco Truck In East L.A. In This Economy

1:44 PM PDT on July 26, 2022

    If you've recently chosen to cook at home to save a few bucks here and there instead of going out to eat, you are not alone. Everyone in Los Angeles has been subject to inflated food prices. It has become a scavenger hunt to find tacos that are both delicious to eat and not too expensive. But we are here to remind you that L.A.’s Taco Life is still here for you.

    Our city’s beloved taco prices are not immune to the cost of everything going up.  

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, supermarket costs have increased 11.9 percent nationwide and 10.9 percent in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim region over the past year, with meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and vegetables seeing the highest increases.

    But at the intersection of Eagle Street and Atlantic Boulevard, there are a few trucks where you can still leave satisfied for $10. For some of us, consuming food from a taco truck is either a luxury or a necessity, which is why I set myself a straightforward goal: Could I go out to eat with only $10? 

    Or is $10 just not reasonable anymore?

    Don Pollon food truck.
    Don Pollon food truck. Photo by Yaileen Ramos for L.A. TACO.

    My first truck, Don Pollon, was a bright red truck that was well-liked by the group and well-known for its BBQ ribs in habanero salsa and chicken necks grilled on their Santa Maria-style grill. The server took my order through the tiny window for the birria tacos, which were on sale for $1.25 a piece. It was obvious what to order for my budget. It was by far the tastiest taco I've ever had on Atlantic Boulevard.

    At this point, I had $8.75 to my name, and I was determined to make this work. The Atlantic Boulevard crowd is much different than those on its sister boulevard, La Whittier. On Atlantic, you are likely to rub elbows with the working people of East Los Angeles: nurses, construction workers, tattoo artists, and many more. 

    The Shrimp n' Taco Stop.
    The Shrimp n' Taco Stop. Photo by Yaileen Ramos for L.A. TACO.

    I went to "The Shrimp n' Taco Stop" for my next stop. 

    One of the most popular taco options on the menu right now in East Los Angeles may be seafood. I recognized this taco as I was perusing their menu when I came across the “Baja Taco” on the menu. I paid $4 for the taco. They have friendly, outgoing staff that are always happy to assist you in enjoying your stop at their truck. That "Baja Taco" has the ideal balance of crunchy and savory.

    Two tacos in, a bright green food truck at the end of the line caught my eye. Its side was imprinted with the words "Tacos El Grillo." To get the most bang for my buck, sope with a fried masa foundation, and your choice of meat, lettuce, cheese, and cream as a topping was recommended to me by the kindest older man. 

    As I placed my order for the sope with chicken on top, my last $4 was still clinging to the inside of my wallet. The speedy service had me out in minutes, and my sope was gone moments after. 

    I was left with $.75, and I called it a day. For $10, I was satisfied with the three tacos I ate, each a different regional style and within a few steps of each other. 

    As I drove home, I couldn't stop myself from thinking about how much these hard-working taqueros and taqueras go through every day to serve the people of the community affordably. In reality, they deserve to raise their prices, too, and we should continue supporting them. They provide us with fresh food, fresh salsas, and fresh aguas frescas, and it’s not fast-food. Being on a budget doesn’t have to kill your taco-loving dreams. 

    Don Pollon is at 440 S Atlantic Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90022. Closest transit lines and stop: Metro Bus Line 260 and Montebello Bus Lines Route 10 - "Atlantic/4th", Metro E Line - "Atlantic Station."

    Tacos El Grillo sets up next to Don Pollon.   

    Follow the Shrimp N’ Taco Stop on Instagram to see where they are popping up next. 

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