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Spring in my Corazon de Torta

No taco fest? No problem. Find a food truck

Corazon de Torta food truck, parked three days a week at Klover dispensary
Corazon de Torta food truck, parked three days a week at Klover dispensary

It was about three years ago next weekend that I got my first taste of the Corazon de Torta food truck. It was parked towards the back of the Reader’s Tacotopia taco festival, but buzz had already reached the front gates by time I walked in. Don’t miss it, friends and colleagues warned me, Stand in line, so worth it.

They were not wrong.

There’s no taco festival this spring, for obvious reasons, and on cinco de mayo, Corazon de Torta will likewise observe its third anniversary under a pandemic cloud. But, with our outdoor spaces beginning to open up, it felt like a great time to track this truck down, and enjoy my own little taco celebration.

An unprecedented lack of line at the Mariscos truck in South Park

In one sense, food trucks are ready-made to survive the sort of restrictions we face during the current health scare. They have lower overhead costs compared to restaurants leasing by the square foot, fewer employees (if any), and they serve take-out by default. However, in practice, most food trucks count on doing business at popular gathering places — outside brewery tasting rooms, at public markets, and parked at the numerous special events our sunny city would normally be hosting every weekend this spring. Obviously, crowds have dried up everywhere by gubernatorial edict, so many food trucks have no place to go to attract customers.

Better positioned to survive are the trucks that park in the same leased location each day. But even those are experience dramatic drops in business. I’ve always had to wait ten or twenty minutes in line at the mariscos truck in the South Park Target parking lot (3030 Grape Street). Last week: no line at all.

Carne asada and al pastor street tacos from Corazon de Torta

A similar situation across the street, next to The Bottle House liquor store (3012 Grape Street, South Park). In January, the Shawarma Guys food truck that started parking there last summer was named the number one restaurant in America, according to Yelp. Overnight, I watched that truck go from serving three to six customers at a time, to being surrounded by crowds of fifteen to twenty. In April: down to a trickle. That’s got to hurt.

Maybe that changes now that more people are beginning to emerge from their homes to visit public parks and beaches. I used a few personal errands as an excuse to get myself in the vicinity of Corazon de Torta. The truck has bounced around over the years, most often doing business near brewery tasting rooms, from Societe in Kearny Mesa, down to the breweries and bars on Third Avenue, Chula Vista.

Pollo and cauliflower tacos — other than the cheese, the cauliflower taco is vegan.

Under current circumstances, Corazon de Torta has settled on two regular, weekly homes: Friday and Saturday outside of Fall Brewing Company (4542 30th Street, North Park), and Tuesday through Thursday in front of the Klover cannabis dispensary, (3500 Estudillo Street, Mission Hills). It parks both places at 11 am, and continued till 6 or 7pm.

I found it in the Klover parking lot and picked up four tacos for my one-man Tacotopia: carne asada, al pastor, cauliflower, and chicken. Say what you will about the mood-enhancers sold inside the dispensary, but there’s no doubt eating street tacos put a smile on my face. Even behind the mask.

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Corazon de Torta food truck, parked three days a week at Klover dispensary
Corazon de Torta food truck, parked three days a week at Klover dispensary

It was about three years ago next weekend that I got my first taste of the Corazon de Torta food truck. It was parked towards the back of the Reader’s Tacotopia taco festival, but buzz had already reached the front gates by time I walked in. Don’t miss it, friends and colleagues warned me, Stand in line, so worth it.

They were not wrong.

There’s no taco festival this spring, for obvious reasons, and on cinco de mayo, Corazon de Torta will likewise observe its third anniversary under a pandemic cloud. But, with our outdoor spaces beginning to open up, it felt like a great time to track this truck down, and enjoy my own little taco celebration.

An unprecedented lack of line at the Mariscos truck in South Park

In one sense, food trucks are ready-made to survive the sort of restrictions we face during the current health scare. They have lower overhead costs compared to restaurants leasing by the square foot, fewer employees (if any), and they serve take-out by default. However, in practice, most food trucks count on doing business at popular gathering places — outside brewery tasting rooms, at public markets, and parked at the numerous special events our sunny city would normally be hosting every weekend this spring. Obviously, crowds have dried up everywhere by gubernatorial edict, so many food trucks have no place to go to attract customers.

Better positioned to survive are the trucks that park in the same leased location each day. But even those are experience dramatic drops in business. I’ve always had to wait ten or twenty minutes in line at the mariscos truck in the South Park Target parking lot (3030 Grape Street). Last week: no line at all.

Carne asada and al pastor street tacos from Corazon de Torta

A similar situation across the street, next to The Bottle House liquor store (3012 Grape Street, South Park). In January, the Shawarma Guys food truck that started parking there last summer was named the number one restaurant in America, according to Yelp. Overnight, I watched that truck go from serving three to six customers at a time, to being surrounded by crowds of fifteen to twenty. In April: down to a trickle. That’s got to hurt.

Maybe that changes now that more people are beginning to emerge from their homes to visit public parks and beaches. I used a few personal errands as an excuse to get myself in the vicinity of Corazon de Torta. The truck has bounced around over the years, most often doing business near brewery tasting rooms, from Societe in Kearny Mesa, down to the breweries and bars on Third Avenue, Chula Vista.

Pollo and cauliflower tacos — other than the cheese, the cauliflower taco is vegan.

Under current circumstances, Corazon de Torta has settled on two regular, weekly homes: Friday and Saturday outside of Fall Brewing Company (4542 30th Street, North Park), and Tuesday through Thursday in front of the Klover cannabis dispensary, (3500 Estudillo Street, Mission Hills). It parks both places at 11 am, and continued till 6 or 7pm.

I found it in the Klover parking lot and picked up four tacos for my one-man Tacotopia: carne asada, al pastor, cauliflower, and chicken. Say what you will about the mood-enhancers sold inside the dispensary, but there’s no doubt eating street tacos put a smile on my face. Even behind the mask.

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