Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
A taco cart is more than a box on four wheels. The mobile service of tacos requires proper hygiene, fresh ingredients – and a qualified, experienced caterer.
Taco carts have come a long way, baby.
The first far-north version – a New England progeny of the tamale vendors in the Tex-Mex border areas – was a converted covered wagon with windows cut into the tent fabric for kitchen-to-customer interaction. But the food was sandwiches and coffee. It took a while (and a fast food chain) for tacos to become a beloved part of the American food landscape.
Today, taco cart catering companies have transformed the cart into a food station used at special events. The cart itself is a self-contained kitchen that gives event planners many options of where to situate the food service instead of tying it to where a banquet table is close to a kitchen. Wherever the taco cart can be parked you have a party.
But a taco-themed event and menu is more than just the taco cart. An effective and successful event involving taco carts has several key components:
Technical requirements – This includes storage facilities, refrigeration, food preparation, cleanliness and appearance. Additionally, business and vending licenses and food handling permits are required in many municipalities, as are location approvals for street vendor taco carts. Operators are also required to hold business liability insurance to cover food borne illness claims and other bodily or property harm that might be tied to operation of the business.
Human requirements – In addition to proper training, food-handling classes in the hygienic preparation and storage of food is required of business owners and their employees.
Fresh ingredients – While almost every business strives to offer fresh ingredients in its menu items – when was the last time a restaurant advertised its awesome frozen and canned ingredients? – what matters is how that food is held, prepared and presented. The taco caterers hired for special events will always have refrigeration and cooking as a part of the cart itself. (And note: the margarita bar ingredients should be equally fresh.)
Reputation of the taco caterers – When all the legal and technical requirements are met, and the menu is well designed and supplied with quality ingredients, the success of the modern taco cart business still hinges on the reputation of the caterer/vendor. Friendliness, accommodation and overall service levels matter. With mobile taco catering, there is often a social media component that will support that business – and which can inform customers as to where that cart might be found on any particular night.
So while it may appear to be a simple service – “anyone can do this” – in fact a successful taco cart operation, even with the most modern taco technology available, might fail if it doesn’t include all these other components.