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Taco Afterlife: Sister of Beloved Taquero Who Passed Away To Honor Him By Continuing His Pop-Up Dream

11:05 AM PST on February 26, 2021

    [dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]rapped up in every taco’s gentle sheet of masa is someone’s treasured memory made of joy and love. A bite of the same taco years later can bring back the smell of your mom’s kitchen, that “one time in Mexico,” or those moments you let your guard down and allowed someone to get to know you better while sharing a plate dripping with juicy meat and salsas piled on tortillas. For Natalia Solis, the tacos from Por Lo Menos Un Taco are about one thing, the joyous memory of a man who touched so many with his graceful flavor. 

    Almost three months to the day after the taquero with the magic hands suddenly passed away in his sleep, Natalia decided that rather than spend another month anniversary of his passing in mourning, she will pick herself up by the tortilla and celebrate Jose by doing what brought them both so much joy, making tacos through his pop up, Por Lo Menos Un Taco. 

    It wasn’t an easy decision. She had attempted to do this on January 26th, but the anxiety and panic attacks that came with trying to pop up without her brother overwhelmed her. She regretfully canceled that pop-up in an Instagram post just days before. Natalia tells L.A. Taco, “I’m just trying to take it slow, but in the back of my mind, I know I would feel better once I got back into it.”

    For the Solis family, it wasn’t just a taco pop-up, “It was his dream, and it really brought us closer together.” Sharing a space between a comal and table full of Jose’s colorful salsa grew a strong bond between the brother and sister duo. But stepping back into the taquero‘s pit without Jose’s magic taquero hands, his laugh or his direction is going to require bold strength from Natalia, the strength she eventually found in an inspiring note she re-read from Jose. 

    He wrote, “I want to let you know how happy and proud I am of you. You are always up for a challenge and kick ass at it. I want to say thank you for never giving up on me and my dream even though you have so much going on and always find time to make it happen. You are one of the most hard-working women. I would not change you for anything in the world.” - Love, your bro Jose.

    “And he is right, I AM kick ass, I AM hard-working, I AM up for a challenge!” writes Natalia on the Instagram post where she shared that letter last week. It’s enough for anyone to see why Jose was so proud of her. 

    These tacos will not only celebrate Jose’s life but also heal a community and family who miss him dearly. 

    Natalia isn’t the only one who built this strong bond with Jose over his tacos. Ricardo Ybarra, Jose’s right-hand man, is there in full support, ready to take on the challenge. Her mom, Sonia Solis, who’s been in the kitchen since Wednesday getting ready for this Friday’s pop-up, is pouring her love into prepping her chile relleno tacos José loved so much. The cousins are coming out to help, and customers have been sending their words of support, telling them how much they also miss Jose and his tacos. “There’s so much help and so many of us that want to just do it for him,” Natalia shares with L.A. Taco, ”but also do it for us.” 

    These tacos will not only celebrate Jose’s life but also heal a community and family who miss him dearly. 

    The menu will have most of the tacos that Natalia feels confident they can make again. The asada, “Which we know how to marinate the way he did,” and Mama’s Chile Relleno taco, which was a favorite of customers and Jose are back on the menu along with lengua with salsa de molcajete verde, a creamy potato taco, taquitos with chicken mole, and a fantastic shrimp taco. 

    They don’t have any long-term plans for Por Lo Menos Un Taco yet, but Natalia assures us that the pop-ups will continue. They’ve already committed every 26th of the month, the day in October that he passed away, to celebrate Jose with the tacos that brought them closer together, no matter the day of the week it falls on. 

    They are taking orders through their DMs for curbside pickup from 4-8 pm in the City of Bell today, February 26th, and every following 26th following this month. 

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