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View Full Version : Taco Trucks: Food poisoning or food paradise?


No Wikipedia Cites
02-23-2010, 08:28 PM
I've seen some Taco Trucks down in Barrio every now and then, and by mass transit areas, and I have to wonder what the rates of food borne illness are on these. They can't have running water -- would that that affect the safety of the food? How can they clean anything?

Are these things safe for los gringos or just as safe, if not safer, than the local greasy spoon cafe?

Note that I am asking for facts of food safety, not whether the food is tasty. Pure science, you see.


Carne de burro

LIONsob
02-23-2010, 09:17 PM
I have eaten at various taco trucks/stands/venders here in Houston and have never had any problem with the sanitation/food safety. All the trucks/venders that I tried did have running fresh water from a hose or onboard tank and waste water holding tanks and were as clean as any regular cafe. So yes the food is gringo safe, hasn't killed me yet and I am about as gringo as it gets.
Peace
LIONsob

wolfman
02-23-2010, 09:36 PM
Man I miss Tamales from the roach coach on Federal in Denver. Never got food sickness, although I had a burrito or two that ran an intestinal sprint.

Tapioca Dextrin
02-23-2010, 09:46 PM
Despite ten years of intensive research, they've never killed me.

GameHat
02-23-2010, 09:48 PM
Trust me, the "gringo" chains - your Denny's, your Taco Bell's, your McDonald's - aren't any cleaner.

It all depends on the proprietors.

In the case of a chain - most of the workers simply don't care much about the business.

In the case of a Taco Truck - well, if they get a rep for poisoning a patron, they'll have some heat on them.

FWIW, the absolute cleanest place I ever ate was a local tacqeuria. It was in a a dirty looking shack in a bad part of town. But I could see their grill from my seat, and it was spotless. Gordon Ramsay couldn't have found a cleanliness complaint. A real pity when it went under a few months back, they made some damn tasty food.

The dirtiest place I ever ate? A Bennigan's in Gary, IN. Yep, a huge, "family friendly" chain. This place was the dirtiest of dirty in a shithole of a city. Everything, and I mean everything, was slick with filth-grease in this place. The tables. The menus. Hell, even the floor. My boss and I still joke about it. We both laugh how walking to the men's room was difficult because even the walkway from the seating area to the restrooms had a patina of greasy filth.

blondebear
02-23-2010, 09:52 PM
I've been told that the haute street cuisine scene in LA is at Kogi's Korean BBQ Taco Trucks (http://kogibbq.com/). I haven't tried them myself, but I'm planning a visit next time I'm in town.

silenus
02-23-2010, 09:54 PM
You are correct. Nothing like a Korean short-rib taco to make you embrace the fusion of cultures.

stpauler
02-23-2010, 10:09 PM
Great, now I'm craving papusas from our local truck that seems not to want to stick around for Minnesota winters.

ralph124c
02-24-2010, 01:08 AM
I've often wondered about these..the local cops refer to them as "roach coaches".
Seriously, here in the NE, a food van should be free of vermin (at least in winter) - parking outside at night would kill all the bugs and rodents.
I have seen a few nasty ones, though-on the campus of the U of Vermont-there was a truck selling food-and the exhaust vent on the side was positively dripping black grease! Ugh!:eek:

Cyberhwk
02-24-2010, 03:38 AM
FWIW, I've heard locally that the taco trucks actually do much better on health inspections than regular restaurants.

An Arky
02-24-2010, 04:14 AM
They make the best tacos, and I've never had a bad experience.

Darryl Lict
02-24-2010, 04:46 AM
I've never gotten sick. But then again I've eaten street vendor food from all over the planet, including numerous third world countries.

Hell, I've eaten the bacon wrapped weiners in Ensenada.

don't ask
02-24-2010, 04:58 AM
Surely you have something like this: NSW Food Authority Penalty Notices (http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/penalty-notices/default.aspx?template=results&searchname=Added%20this%20month&inthelast=31)? I'm sure it would be common knowledge it it were true. In Australia it always seems to be pork buns that cause outbreaks of food poisoning.

gotpasswords
02-24-2010, 08:57 AM
Depending on the county, mobile food vendors can have significantly more restrictions and inspections imposed on them than a normal restaurant.

For example, if you want to run a taco truck in Fresno County (http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/DivisionPage.aspx?id=1092), California, you not only need to have health inspections on your truck, the vehicle itself must have passed building code inspection, and you must be based out of a licensed and inspected commissary. DuPage County (http://www.dupagehealth.org/safefood/industry/mv/mv_truck.asp) in Illinois has a similar list of requirements.

Essentially, you have to first have a restaurant up and running to store and/or prepare food, with all of its relevant inspections and permits, then you add a vehicle with its own set of inspections and permits. It's a lot to keep up with in order to stay in business.

Add to all this the typical condition that a mobile food vendor is subject to inspection at any time they're open and serving the public, the wise operator always keeps the vehicle in satisfactory condition as they never know when an inspector might wander by.

howye
02-24-2010, 09:30 AM
Depending on the county, mobile food vendors can have significantly more restrictions and inspections imposed on them than a normal restaurant.

For example, if you want to run a taco truck in Fresno County (http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/DivisionPage.aspx?id=1092), California, you not only need to have health inspections on your truck, the vehicle itself must have passed building code inspection, and you must be based out of a licensed and inspected commissary. DuPage County (http://www.dupagehealth.org/safefood/industry/mv/mv_truck.asp) in Illinois has a similar list of requirements.

Essentially, you have to first have a restaurant up and running to store and/or prepare food, with all of its relevant inspections and permits, then you add a vehicle with its own set of inspections and permits. It's a lot to keep up with in order to stay in business.

Add to all this the typical condition that a mobile food vendor is subject to inspection at any time they're open and serving the public, the wise operator always keeps the vehicle in satisfactory condition as they never know when an inspector might wander by.

No such complicated business setup is required here in Ohio, but the food vendors are subject to the same health inspection as any other prepared food seller. Heck, in Columbus you are most likely to find these types of places in front of the courthouse and other government buildings. They are frequented by people going to court, court workers, attorneys, and law enforcement. If they were not clean and safe, I am pretty sure they would not last in those locations very long.

MeanOldLady
02-24-2010, 09:44 AM
They can't have running water...Yes, they do.

And I'll have no part of this Kogi business. Real taco trucks are operated by a bunch of guys who don't speak English, you order some asada tacos, and if you're really lucky, the truck has frijoles negros instead of rojos (black beans are oh so key), and that's it. No fusion, no gourmet. Tacos, burritos, lengua, and if you have no desire to enjoy your meal, a chisburger, which will contain a slice of Kraft American that will be burned onto the bun. God, I miss LA. :( Wtf is hot dish?

Elendil's Heir
02-24-2010, 09:45 AM
I've been told that the haute street cuisine scene in LA is at Kogi's Korean BBQ Taco Trucks (http://kogibbq.com/). I haven't tried them myself, but I'm planning a visit next time I'm in town.

Newsweek had a gushing article about those a year or two ago, IIRC. Sounds yummy.

howye
02-24-2010, 09:50 AM
Missed the edit window, if you are in central Ohio and need a taco from a truck, look here. (http://tacotruckscolumbus.com/)

joyfool
02-24-2010, 09:55 AM
Newsweek had a gushing article about those a year or two ago, IIRC. Sounds yummy.

They were also recently featured on some Food Network (or was it the Travel channel?) show too.

MeanOldLady
02-24-2010, 10:08 AM
Real taco trucks don't have Twitter accounts!

suranyi
02-24-2010, 10:20 AM
My wife and I have eaten food from the taco trucks at various times for many years with no ill effects. This is in the S.F. Bay Area.

Johnny L.A.
02-24-2010, 10:29 AM
This is not a taco truck (http://www.maximus-minimus.com/).

It's a pork truck. Your choices are a pork sandwich, a veggie sandwich, chips, coleslaw, ginger lemonade, and hibiscus nectar.

Good food. But it would be nice if there was an actual taco truck around.

i am a scientist
02-24-2010, 04:50 PM
the taco truck near my office on 7th street in downtown LA has the most consistently delicious food in the city of Los Angeles.

He doesn't come on Wednesdays. the saddest day of the week ....

Cast my vote for "paradise"

The Hamster King
02-24-2010, 04:58 PM
I've been told that the haute street cuisine scene in LA is at Kogi's Korean BBQ Taco Trucks (http://kogibbq.com/). I haven't tried them myself, but I'm planning a visit next time I'm in town.There are a LOT of different trucks now on the west side. I work in a neighborhood in Santa Monica with a slew of media companies and few walkable lunch options. There are typically four or five trucks parked on the street behind my office every weekday.

The Kogi truck is okay, but my favorites are the Nom Nom Truck and the India Jones Chow Truck. I've actually waited in line for more than 20 minutes to get a grilled pork Banh Mi from Nom Nom. If it hadn't been raining I would have had Nom Nom for lunch today!

FoieGrasIsEvil
02-24-2010, 05:09 PM
This is not a taco truck (http://www.maximus-minimus.com/).

It's a pork truck. Your choices are a pork sandwich, a veggie sandwich, chips, coleslaw, ginger lemonade, and hibiscus nectar.

Good food. But it would be nice if there was an actual taco truck around.

That thing....is freaking AWESOME!
:)

Johnny L.A.
02-24-2010, 05:41 PM
That thing....is freaking AWESOME!
:)

Isn't it, though? :cool:

Here are some close-ups (http://www.tunersandmodels.com/wp/?p=4163).