4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Tijuana's 21st-century taco cart has arrived

“I guess it looks nicer. I don’t think our customers care.”

The straight lines of the framed tarps make this vendor's stand blend with the façade and sidewalk-scape.
The straight lines of the framed tarps make this vendor's stand blend with the façade and sidewalk-scape.

The trend to design exteriors of exposed brick and finished natural wood has made it to Tijuana. Many of the new and remodeled buildings have that modern look, clashing with the old sheet-metal carts of street vendors.

The taqueros' drab-painted carts do what they can to welcome all.

In mid-November, many vendors in Tijuana’s tourist areas covered their metal carts with wood finishes and “Welcome to Tijuana” written in white, brown tarps, and a small white sign with the emergency number 911 (Mexico switched the number in 2017). Tacos, churros, hot dogs y hamburguesas, elotes, tamales, fruit, and candy stands, and many other carts got the new look but still sell the same cheap food.

“We were forced to pay,” an old woman sitting at her candy stand on Calle Segunda told me. Her stand is across the street from Tijuana’s oldest cathedral. The stand went from improvised old tarps to new tarps with wood printed on them and “Bienvenidos/Welcome” with a picture of a Zonkey.

“It was the director of city hall. If they were free, great. But I had to pay 1300 pesos [roughly $70]. Taco vendors and other bigger carts had to pay way more. And if we didn’t, they were going to not let us work.”

I bought a couple of loose cigarettes that candy vendors usually keep hidden inside a box and moved on. (It’s illegal to sell individual cigarettes, though a very common practice).

Another tarp-framed vendor's stand

A few steps away from the lady’s candy stand, a taco stand that used to be all sheet metal is now covered with wood. I got a couple of suadero tacos and tried to make casual conversation with the taquero.

“I don’t think they paid [for the remodel], I just came to work and the cart was covered with wood,” the young taquero told me. “I guess it looks nicer. I don’t think our customers care.”

After my tacos, I spotted an old man selling churros out of a traditional cart that was also redone with wood.

“I paid 6000 pesos [about $322] to cover my cart con maderita [with small pieces of wood],” the churro man told me as he handed me a paper bag with sugar-covered churros for 20 pesos. “I didn’t really have a choice, but it looks nice and I have nothing against it. I heard that nicer carts had to pay over 16,000 pesos [about $860],” said the old man, pointing across the street behind him.

Later that night, I went to get tacos in the direction the old man had pointed, from a busy vendor with a remodeled cart. “They wanted to charge us 12,000 pesos, but we did it ourselves,” the taquero assistant told me as I was paying for my two tacos de lengua. “It’s the same cart, we just covered it with wood and got a brown tarp. You will see. They will make all the vendors do the same thing.”

Research subject #1

Not all street vendors have had to make the conversion; many may remain with the same sheet-metal look.

“They haven’t said anything to me,” said Israel Castillo, who runs a seafood street cart named El Buzo on Calle Segunda, a few blocks away from the remodeled vendors.

“Look, someone in the government, every time they switch administrations, they have different ideas. Years back they told us that all street vendors had to be sheet metal. Someone is going around with the idea that they all have to be wood now. I hope no one says anything, I’ve seen what they did with the carts y están bien gachos [they are really ugly].”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Blue Box Butcher makes meat eating easy

A new, pandemic friendly butcher shop caters to online orders
Next Article

Toni Atkins ramps up lieutenant governor run

Santa Barbara ex-police chief defends Lori Luhnow
The straight lines of the framed tarps make this vendor's stand blend with the façade and sidewalk-scape.
The straight lines of the framed tarps make this vendor's stand blend with the façade and sidewalk-scape.

The trend to design exteriors of exposed brick and finished natural wood has made it to Tijuana. Many of the new and remodeled buildings have that modern look, clashing with the old sheet-metal carts of street vendors.

The taqueros' drab-painted carts do what they can to welcome all.

In mid-November, many vendors in Tijuana’s tourist areas covered their metal carts with wood finishes and “Welcome to Tijuana” written in white, brown tarps, and a small white sign with the emergency number 911 (Mexico switched the number in 2017). Tacos, churros, hot dogs y hamburguesas, elotes, tamales, fruit, and candy stands, and many other carts got the new look but still sell the same cheap food.

“We were forced to pay,” an old woman sitting at her candy stand on Calle Segunda told me. Her stand is across the street from Tijuana’s oldest cathedral. The stand went from improvised old tarps to new tarps with wood printed on them and “Bienvenidos/Welcome” with a picture of a Zonkey.

“It was the director of city hall. If they were free, great. But I had to pay 1300 pesos [roughly $70]. Taco vendors and other bigger carts had to pay way more. And if we didn’t, they were going to not let us work.”

I bought a couple of loose cigarettes that candy vendors usually keep hidden inside a box and moved on. (It’s illegal to sell individual cigarettes, though a very common practice).

Another tarp-framed vendor's stand

A few steps away from the lady’s candy stand, a taco stand that used to be all sheet metal is now covered with wood. I got a couple of suadero tacos and tried to make casual conversation with the taquero.

“I don’t think they paid [for the remodel], I just came to work and the cart was covered with wood,” the young taquero told me. “I guess it looks nicer. I don’t think our customers care.”

After my tacos, I spotted an old man selling churros out of a traditional cart that was also redone with wood.

“I paid 6000 pesos [about $322] to cover my cart con maderita [with small pieces of wood],” the churro man told me as he handed me a paper bag with sugar-covered churros for 20 pesos. “I didn’t really have a choice, but it looks nice and I have nothing against it. I heard that nicer carts had to pay over 16,000 pesos [about $860],” said the old man, pointing across the street behind him.

Later that night, I went to get tacos in the direction the old man had pointed, from a busy vendor with a remodeled cart. “They wanted to charge us 12,000 pesos, but we did it ourselves,” the taquero assistant told me as I was paying for my two tacos de lengua. “It’s the same cart, we just covered it with wood and got a brown tarp. You will see. They will make all the vendors do the same thing.”

Research subject #1

Not all street vendors have had to make the conversion; many may remain with the same sheet-metal look.

“They haven’t said anything to me,” said Israel Castillo, who runs a seafood street cart named El Buzo on Calle Segunda, a few blocks away from the remodeled vendors.

“Look, someone in the government, every time they switch administrations, they have different ideas. Years back they told us that all street vendors had to be sheet metal. Someone is going around with the idea that they all have to be wood now. I hope no one says anything, I’ve seen what they did with the carts y están bien gachos [they are really ugly].”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Blue Box Butcher makes meat eating easy

A new, pandemic friendly butcher shop caters to online orders
Next Article

Star jasmine will scent our spring breezes

Where to look for native grass, the Arch of Spring
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close