Skip to Content

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

[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.
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

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Why You Should Be Tipping Your Servers and Budtenders In L.A.

Minimum wage workers in L.A. reflect on the reality of working for tips: “This is how I have to survive out here in California.”

July 18, 2024

The Newest Addition to the L.A. Dodgers is a 14-Year-Old From Culiacán, Sinaloa

Meet Ezequiel Rivera, the teenager from Culiacán, Sinaloa, who just signed with one of the MLB’s most prominent teams.

July 18, 2024

The Singer For Brujería, L.A.’s Biggest Mexican-American Shock-Rock Death Metal Band, Has Died

Brujería's co-vocalist, Ciriaco "Pinche Peach" Quezada, passed away last night from heart failure at 57. He joined in the band in 1992 after founding member Jello Biafra left. He was the star of many of their provocative music videos and sang alongside his cousin and founding vocalist, Juan Brujo.

July 18, 2024

The 24 L.A. Rappers You Need to Know in 2024

Kendrick Lamar's 'The Pop Out' show celebrated many rising L.A. rappers carrying hip-hop into the future. Here is our list (and your next playlist) of the local emcees putting on for the West Coast.

Check Out L.A. TACO’s Sunny New Summer Styles!

Rep the Taco Life and independent journalism with our new 'boxy cut' women's pink bota shirt and pink-and-blue hoodie. Now up on our online store! Every sale makes sure that we continue bringing you all the stories you all love.

July 16, 2024
See all posts