NEXT STOP: USA
With 12 MX pesos in their pockets and a goal to reach the U.S., Don Raúl and Doña Lupe traveled from Mexico City to Tijuana. Once they arrived, the attendant told them they were short on change for their next bus. Hesitant about returning, they were unclear about their next step and future. A bystander overheard their conversation and approached them with tickets.
Fun Fact: Raúl’s first job in the U.S. was as a dishwasher. He went on to work as a butcher, where he became an expert in selecting meats.
TACOS AND FÚTBOL
Raúl grew up playing in Liga de Fútbol Villa Madero while living in Mexico City. When they moved to California, they would drive to MacArthur Park to watch the locals play. With no food vendors close by, they would pack their tacos to-go and grill some carne asada while enjoying the matches - a typical custom in Mexico.
When the games were done, the players began to line up to ask if they could purchase tacos. Raúl was inspired by the number of people who would remind him how difficult it was to find authentic Mexico City-style food in the city.
Did you know there was a King Taco league in the U.S?
FIRST U.S. TACO TRUCK
Despite doubts from others, they decided to purchase a 1950s ice cream truck and converted it into the first mobile taco-making station. On a summer night in 1974, Raúl and Lupe stationed their taco truck next to an East LA bar where they became popularly known.
Fun Fact: In Mexico, it is custom to name your truck - Raúl named his La Güera.
Six months later, Raúl and Lupe purchased a small space located in Cypress Park. In the beginning, this location was primarily used as a central kitchen so that they could open and properly operate their restaurant business. Today it is one of the few surviving original restaurants, making it an L.A. staple.
Fun Fact: It was in this exact location where Lupe experimented and created the formula for the famous salsa roja.
KING TACO #2
One of King Taco’s most popular locations, King Taco #2 on Ford and 3rd street. Although the original King Taco (Cypress Park) location began operations in 1975, it wasn’t a restaurant right away. The original operated as a central kitchen, helping launch the second location – Which is why many people often confuse which of these two is the original.
At the time, this location operated as an order-to-go restaurant. Customers would walk up to the windows, cashiers would take orders by hand and pass them on to the cooks. Customers would enjoy their tacos on the hood of their cars, a common custom back in the day.
Attached to the restaurant was a bodega (warehouse), where they would handle production. This is also the location where Raúl had his first office space, which today has been preserved in his honor and holds many items and memories from the early King Taco days.
Fun Fact: Raúl was a big believer in giving back and uplifting the community. The fountain on site was a gift from nuns at their local church.
Raúl had an admiration for motorsports and respected the craft. The family often participated in weekend excursions to race tracks in northern California. In the mid-90s, King Taco branched out by stationing their food truck at the Long Beach Grand Prix. Their first year was such a hit that they decided to continue participating in the yearly event.
Fun Fact: Today King Taco supports drivers of all levels from go-kart racers with the ambition to reach the next level, to Long Beach Grand Prix racer, Colton Herta, and Formula One driver, Antonio Giovinazzi.
Hardworking, passionate, and caring are just a few words to describe the person Raúl was. He had a deep appreciation for hard-working employees and offered growth and opportunities to his employees, a work culture that King Taco continues today.
The Mexican fast-food favorite has since expanded to 22 popular locations throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. Today, King Taco serves a wide variety of authentic Mexican foods, and has been recognized by prominent food critics.
In honor of Don Raúl’s legacy, King Taco continues to support and uplift the community that gave it its start by supporting organizations that attend to those in need and those who are homeless, funding organizations that assist children living with cancer, HIV, and AIDS, responding to assist with national and international disasters, providing sponsorships to law enforcement organizations, as well as being a team player with events that procures funding for diabetes and more.
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