Skip to Content

This Taquero Drove His Taco Truck to an Evacuation Site to Feed People Displaced by the Camp Fire

3:15 PM PST on November 14, 2018

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n fire-ravaged Northern California — where most people are living their day-to-day wearing masks to avoid smoke inhalation — a taquero originally from Guamuchil, Sinaloa is providing a much needed respite with tacos, burritos, tamales, and human kindness.

Jose Uriarte closes his popular brick and mortar taqueria Gordo Burrito up in Chico — 100 miles north of Sacramento – every Sunday to rest and as he puts it, “Be with God.” But this past Sunday, the Sinaloa expat put in work, driving his second location – a taco truck – through a thick fog of smoke to the parking lot of an old Elks Lodge where hundreds of displaced Californians have taken refuge from the deadly Camp Fire.

Gordo Burrito is just outside the wrath of the Camp Fire.

“It’s so … big,” Uriarte said in Spanish Wednesday, taking a long pause to explain the devastation. The smoke is so bad, it blocks the sun and makes it cold and surreal, Uriarte told L.A. Taco in a phone interview.

“It’s heartbreaking, but I just want to do what I can to help anyone that needs it, right now.” On Sunday, he donated 300 meals at the Chico Elks Lodge refuge. And everyday he is giving away food to others in the community who are helping in the state’s deadliest fire: firemen, EMTs, police, social workers, and displaced people in need of a warm meal.

RELATED: 'We Mostly Sold Burritos': Taco Truck Serves Breakfast For Motorists Stuck on 105 Freeway After Fiery Crash

Uriarte said there are camps similar to the Elks Lodge all over the region — in Walmart parking lots, at the local fairgrounds, anywhere you can fit portions of the roughly 52,000 people evacuated from their homes because of the Camp Fire.

“I’m just a small business owner but I see people and I’m like, 'Here’s 10 or 15 burritos.' It’s the least I can do,” Uriarte said.

He was also generous with his time, talking to L.A. Taco in the middle of the lunch rush, where he was taking orders from patrons all either wearing masks or with masks hanging around their necks. “It’s hard to really explain the reality of the situation.”

The scene he described is in stark contrast to the usual scene described in this review of his award-winning restaurant:

Gordo has the best vibe among my winners. When the owner, Jose Uriarte, isn’t there, it’s a pleasant, friendly spot. When he is, it’s a party. Uriarte is having fun and wants you to join in. He keeps the conversation as Spanish as you can handle, so you know you aren’t at Chipotle. Gordo’s art is unforgettable, both the Aztecan murals and the logo (a campesino pulling a wagon swamped by an enormous burrito), which you can score on a T-shirt.

Uriarte told L.A. Taco that his specialty — like any eatery with Guamuchil roots — is mariscos or seafood. The vendor is from a tiny town just outside Guamuchil called Mocorito. Guamuchil is tucked between a lake and the Pacific Ocean, about 100 clicks north of the Mexican state’s capital Culiacan.

It’s also 1,500 miles south of the Chico Elks Lodge, where Uriarte and his staff fed a diverse collection of his fellow Californians after the deadliest fire in our history.

RELATED: ‘No Radiation’ at Nuclear Testing Site Where Fire Started, Two Health Agencies Say

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

Become a Member

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Spot Check: Colombian Desgranados In Echo Park, Mexican Wine Festival At Mírate, and Perverted Waffles in DTLA

Plus, a party highlighting pan-African cuisine, a new Taiwanese cookbook by an awarded local from the San Gabriel Valley, and a Little Saigon food festival that starts tonight! Welcome back to Spot Check!

September 22, 2023

This 24-Year-Old Latina Mortician Beautifies the Dead and Influences the Living

Growing up in Arleta with a first-generation family from El Salvador, Berrios admits that her family only embraced her career choice two years ago, after she started to win awards like “Young Funeral Director of the Year.” The 24-year-old works as the licenced funeral director and embalmer at Hollywood Forever cemetery. As a young person born in peak Generation Z, she's documented her deathcare journey on TikTok and has accrued more than 43K followers on the platform. 

September 21, 2023

Meet ‘Carnitas Rogelio,’ The Family-Run Stand With The Best Michoacán-Style Carnitas O.C. Has to Offer

Michoacán-raised Rogelio Gonzalez slices the cuerito (the pig skin) in a checkered pattern to ensure a light crunch in each bite and utilizes every part of the pig, from the feet to the liver and intestines, which he binds together in a braid. 

September 20, 2023

‘The Office’ Star Rainn Wilson Brought Jerk Chicken Tacos to the Picket Lines Outside of Paramount Studios

In three hours, D's Tipsy Tacos and her team passed out “roughly 100 plates” of tacos, burritos, rice, beans, nachos, and quesadillas to striking screenwriters and actors.

September 19, 2023

Five Common Plants to Avoid When Creating Your Green Spaces in L.A.

Almost every time I visit a property with landscaping issues, the problem starts with bad design: the wrong plants in the wrong place. Here's advice from a third-generation L.A. landscaper and noted taco expert.

September 19, 2023
See all posts