Omar Garcia Alcaraz and Alejandro Perez Alcaraz had almost given up on their restaurant dream after shuttering their first attempt at a taco truck last year.
“It was not enough to support us,” said Alejandro of the South Tacoma location where the brothers operated their Mexi Tacos truck.
Alejandro found another job. Omar thought about moving north out of Pierce County. Months passed. A deal for a spot in Bainbridge Island fell through.
They didn’t want to let go of their taco dreams, so they made a decision: Find a local neighborhood in need of a taco truck.
They drove around Tacoma’s neighborhoods, looking for a likely spot.
They found a 76 Station at North 26th and Alder streets, adjacent to the Proctor neighborhood, that had everything they wanted: space for the truck, parking and a convenience store with lots of foot traffic.
“We just stopped there and asked if we could set up, and the owners said yes,” Alejandro said.
It took a few days to get the permits and licensing. They reopened Mexi Tacos on Sept. 11.
The neighborhood response has been steady and surprising.
“It’s a lot better than we expected,” Alejandro said. “We have a lot of support from the people who live in the neighborhood.”
For now, the brothers are handling the customers, but they might hire help if they get more busy.
They’re also working on adding seating in a nearby covered shelter.
Omar runs the grill and Alejandro runs the register and is responsible for the morning food-prep. Both worked many years (since its original location) at the Funky Iguana, which prompted them to open their own restaurant after that restaurant closed.
The menu includes the usual taco truck suspects.
Here’s a first-bite report. It’s the News Tribune’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
The menu: A mix of quick-service portable taqueria eats with bargain prices. Tacos ($1.50), plates with carnitas or carne asada, plus rice and beans ($7.99-$10.99), enchilada plates ($5.99-$7.99), burritos ($7.99-$8.99), torta sandwiches ($6.99), flautas and taquitos ($6.99-$7.99), quesadillas ($7.99), chimichangas ($6.99), super nachos ($7.99), huevos con chorizo or a la Mexicana ($6.99) and tamales ($2.50).
Plating: More care than the usual taco truck. Plates are adorned with fresh slices of radishes and cucumber, plus pickled carrots and lime wedges. Tacos come with grilled and fresh onions.
Salsas: Green, red and a creamy chipotle that packed powerful spicing.
Don’t miss: Steamy hot tamales with a tender bite and a channel down the middle filled with slow-roasted pork and red sauce.
An al pastor taco plate held three tacos dressed with fresh cilantro and raw chopped onions, plus a pile of grilled onions. I had to dig my way to the crispy-edged pork underneath, not that I was complaining ($6.99). The plate came with a cup of refried beans and fluffy rice.
A carnitas torta sandwich was served with a toasted bun smeared lightly with beans, a stack of slow roasted pork, pickled jalapenos, fresh cilantro, shredded lettuce and fresh pico de gallo ($6.99). It was a seesaw of flavor and texture with crisp-and-cool veggies playing against fatty-and-decadent pork.
Drinks: None served on the truck. The brothers encourage diners to buy drinks from the store attached to the 76 gas station.
Where: Alder Street 76 Station at 3124 N. 26th St., Tacoma.
Contact: 253-754-3099; bit.ly/2yKOfDw.
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.