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A Morning-Only Taco Pop-Up in Northridge Is Making the Biggest Breakfast Burritos in the San Fernando Valley

What does it take to stand out in Los Angeles's saturated taco climate? Focus on San Fernando Valley-style loaded breakfast tacos, "breakfast quesadillas" with crispy cheese skirts, and the beefiest breakfast burritos Balboa Boulevard has ever seen.

1:08 PM PDT on March 26, 2024

    Taqueria Nopal

    Taqueria Nopal

    If you've ever sped down Balboa Boulevard or Roscoe early on a Thursday or Friday to get to work or drop off your kid at school on time, you’ve likely seen a large crowd hunched under a green tent huddling around the smell of griddle-seared breakfast meats and crispy cheese. That’s because word has traveled fast about Taquería Nopal, a two-year-old breakfast taco stand in Northridge started by lifelong friends Ruben Duarte and Eddie Alarcón. 

    Duarte and Alarcón have known each other since elementary school. They frequently crossed paths, but until high school, they connected in L.A.’s punk and ska scene, where they would always run into each other. After reconnecting, they realized they had the same goals and aspirations and quickly formed a bond. Both had jobs and careers that didn't fulfill their DIY spirit inspired by alternative music. They began working together at another local taco pop-up, honing their craft and getting experience working the grill. In August 2021, the two branched out and started Taquería Nopal.

    What does it take to stand out in Los Angeles's saturated taco climate? Focus on stacked breakfast tacos, "breakfast quesadillas" with crispy cheese skirts, and the most hulking breakfast burrito Balboa Boulevard has ever seen.

    taqueria nopal
    Taquería nopal. Photo by Noe Adame for L.A. TACO.
    Ruben Duarte, Eddie Alarcón, and their trusty taquero, Marky. Photo by Noe Adame for L.A. TACO.

    However, they didn't know that their most requested dish would come from a customer who was in a rush and wanted a burrito for the road. Having extra flour tortillas that day, the duo obliged and created a monster breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs for said client. While other patrons stood around, they noticed the girth and potential for a full stomach. Before they knew it, customers started requesting burritos, which were not on the original menu. Eventually, breakfast quesadillas also became their next hit, and the boys had a captivated and loyal following. Taquería Nopal sources their flour tortillas from Hacienda Market in Sylmar. 

    Assembling a breakfast burrito at Taquería Nopal.
    Assembling a breakfast burrito at Taquería Nopal. Photo by Noe Adame for L.A. TACO.
    A breakfast quesadilla at Taquería Nopal.
    A breakfast quesadilla at Taquería Nopal. Photo by Noe Adame for L.A. TACO.
    A breakfast quesadilla at Taquería Nopal. Photo by Noe Adame for L.A. TACO.

    A warning: Their portions are incredibly generous and will satiate any hunger, especially if you’re hungover. They also serve fresh-squeezed orange juice to go with your order.

    The duo has a bright future ahead. Duarte and Alarcón have been invited to cater to several Hollywood celebrities multiple times. When asked about their goal, they say they dream of opening a brick-and-mortar place to showcase their gourmet-styled tacos and experiment with new flavors and combinations. They've recently started a taco cart catering service to offer more items they can rotate in and out of their menu alongside their breakfast favorites.

    Breakfast tacos at Taquería Nopal. Photo by Noe Adame for L.A. TACO.
    A breakfast quesadilla with all the salsas at Taquería Nopal. Photo by Noe Adame for L.A. TACO.

    8400 Balboa Blvd, Northridge, CA 91329. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 152, 235, and 236 - "Balboa/Roscoe."

    Open Thursday to Saturday ~ 7 AM to sell out.

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