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Los Originales Tacos Árabes Inaugurates Its First Food Truck With East L.A. Celebration

6:12 PM PST on February 7, 2019

    [dropcap size=big]O[/dropcap]n the corner of Olympic and Esperanza in East L.A., the sounds of mariachi blew on a cold evening in February in celebration of Los Originales Tacos Árabes de Puebla getting its first food truck.

    Bushels of flowers surround the front of the truck. And just inside, the entire Villegas family is huddled up working to serve an already-long line of people eager to try their special dish for the inauguration: mole.

    “It’s a dream come true,” owner Merced Villegas said Wednesday, before hurrying back to the truck to feed the crowd. L.A. Taco tried the mole, rich and smooth in texture. It is topped with perfectly toasted sesame seeds that give the dish an ethereal crunch.

    All photos by Erick Huerta
    Photo by Erick Huerta

    Los Originales Tacos Árabes de Puebla, one of the seminal Pueblan-style taqueros, has been in service for seven years but never had more than a hitch truck. With help from non profit Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), the family has been maneuvering through the legal hurdles for street vending and working at getting a good loan. LURN runs an initiative called The Semi’a Fund that provides low interest loans to street vendors like Tacos Árabes.

    “The reason why we do that is because there’s a lot of entrepreneurs in our communities that are shunned from banks, they have to go to payday lenders and other folks who give them super high interest rates,” said Rudy Espinoza, executive director at LURN. “We wanted to design a program that serves them.”  

    RELATED: Free Tacos for L.A. Taco Members

    The process finally came to its fruition. The new Los Originales truck is massive and painted beige with colorful art by Ernesto Yerena.

    Merced, the matriarch of the operation, told L.A. Taco that she is grateful to have met people like Azusena Favela (Programs & Operations Director) and Espinoza from LURN. “Gracias a ellos tenemos esto,” she said.

    Photo by Erick Huerta
    Photo by Erick Huerta

    As Wednesday night went on, eventually, they ran out of mole. Without hesitation, they started handing out tacos árabes, their original specialty. The tacos are made up of thick flour tortillas, known as pan arabe, with a marinated pork. The chipotle sauce and limones are self-serve. The tacos taste as great as they’ve always been – as though the family members were intent on proving their talents to the eaters on a night meant to celebrate their achievement.

    “Ahorita queremos acavar con ellos [the loan] y abrir un restuarante.” Merced added.  “And now we want to finish with [the loan] and open a restaurant,” she added.

    All photos by Erick Huerta.

    RELATED: The L.A. Birria Story: Tacos Dorados de Birria de Res Arrive in West Adams

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