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Tacos in the Outfield: Meet the East L.A. Taquero Who Got His Start Selling Carne Asada Inside Tijuana’s Baseball Stadium 

Jesus Manuel "Güero" Mendez is the head taquero for Tacos Don Cuco, which has six locations around L.A. and the I.E. But he never forgets his humble beginnings selling tacos outside Tijuana's baseball stadium. A couple times a year, he still makes carne asada for the staff and players as a way to honor that.

10:22 PM PDT on June 8, 2023

    Guero from Tacos don Cuco in Tijuana

    Guero from Tacos don Cuco in Tijuana

    In east Tijuana, two mountaintops meet above the baseball field of los Toros de Tijuana. As you enter the gates of Estadio Chevron, the smell of elote and chile fills the air between you and your fellow fans.

    An array of taco vendors surround the stadium showing off regional renditions of Tijuana tacos. There are a couple of amazing tacos that are worth going to a baseball game in Tijuana to eat, including the only other location of Los Sabrosos Al Horno, and if you ask owner Jesus Manuel "Güero" Mendez nicely, the original Tacos Don Cuco, which can be found out in the baseball field following the 9th inning.

    As a former taco vendor at the baseball stadium, and now the lead taquero for Tacos Don Cuco's six locations around Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, Güero hosts a carne asada in the field a few times a year for the stadium's staff. He splits his time living between both Tijuana and L.A.

    Güero started his business with his brother just over five years ago, but he has been making and selling tacos for more than 15 years. On May 12, 2018, Tacos Don Cuco officially opened its first taco stand in East Los Angeles. It had a tiny team then, but now, counts over 35 employees. Each employee has a crucial job in the taco-making process. Some make the handmade corn tortillas with Güero's help, others marinate and prep the carne asada, and some wake up early to wash and cut the vegetables. 

    The view from inside the Toros de Tijuana stadium. Photo by Amara Aguilar for L.A. TACO.

    He says they are not just a team but more like family. It would not be complete without everyone’s help. It is apparent how much Güero loves his life’s calling as his face lights up when you ask what his favorite part of being a taquero is.

    “Attention to the client is my favorite part," he says. "I really like interacting with clients and talking with them.”

    The answer came easily. He loves the people he meets and watches them enjoy the food he fell in love with as a child raised in the streets of Tijuana. His favorite taco would be carne asada, a classic. Don Cuco also makes a variety of different quesadillas, tortas, vampiros, tostadas, tacos, and mulitas. If you are lucky, they'll also make an incredible Tijuana-style birria de lengua on some weekend mornings.

    Tacos Don Cuco prioritizes hospitality, willing to show up for anyone anywhere. This takes form in various pop-ups, events in Los Angeles, and even weddings and quinceañeras since they are one of L.A.'s most reliable taquizas (taco caterers).

    Fresh tamarind paste for the beer at Tijuana's baseball stadium. Photo by Javier Cabral.
    Tijuana's baseball stadium is known for the tamarind paste-rimmed beer cups. Photo by Javier Cabral.

    In their effort to truly #bringTJtoLA and beyond, as the tagline on their aprons proudly suggests, Don Cuco has even brought their bright red taco truck to cook for ESPN Los Angeles. 

    The players and fans get ravenous after six hours of baseball action and nine innings. However, Güero usually has to leave around the 7th inning to get the grill started and prepare for the main event: his onfield carne asada. His tacos unite the crowd, especially after drinking at least three of the stadium's famous tamarind paste-rimmed, ice-cold Indio beers.

    Güero's biggest goal is to pass down his love of cooking to his kids, who he hopes will take over his business one day.

    Tacos Don Cuco sets up on the field after the game is over. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.
    The stadium's staff sits to eat Tacos Don Cuco on the field. Photo by Javier Cabral.
    Tacos de asada from Tacos Don Cuco. Photo by Javier Cabral.

    “I hope my kids will follow in my footsteps, but they can go to school and pursue other interests if that’s what they want to do," he tells L.A. TACO after his stadium taquiza. "I'll support them. But it would be nice if my kids followed the taco tradition because it is such a beautiful career."

    Whether you’re in Tijuana or Los Angeles, Tacos Don Cuco’s Tijuana serves as a bridge that connects these two misunderstood cities.

    American baseball capitalizes on uniform concession junk food that funnels funds into their pockets. At Estadio Chevron, there is a much different philosophy, where taqueros like Güero, who got their start selling outside the baseball stadium, are gratefully welcomed back to pay it forward to the new generation of Tijuanenses.

    Misión de Santo Tomás S/N Col. Fracc. Capistrano 22223 Tijuana, Baja California Mexico


    This story is part of TIJUANA WEEK at L.A. TACO! A collaboration with Professors Amara Aguilar, Laura Castañeda, and USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Make sure to check back daily for more stories. A printable L.A. TACO Pocket Travel Guide to Tijuana will drop later this week so keep an eye out for that soon.

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