Gourmet Tacos in a Truck

by Matthew Huisman

Medardo Florencio, owner of Taqueria Guadalupe, cooks up tacos for residents living in Soundview.

Medardo Florencio of Taqueria Guadalupe cooks up tacos for residents living in Soundview. Photo by Matthew Huisman

It’s lunchtime on Westchester Avenue in the Bronx and my stomatch growls, reminding me that I haven’t eaten since 9 a.m.  Instead of grabbing a greasy slice of pizza, or stopping in at one of the many fast food joints that litter the area, I opt instead for Taqueria Guadalupe.

The chrome taco truck sits where Manor and Westchester Avenues meet, a shining, silver oasis of food. Medardo Florencio–owner, chef and cashier–greets me at the window. There is no table, no cash register, no building–only Florencio’s truck converted into a mobile kitchen. The sole concessions to traditional dining are two lonely chairs leaning against the brick wall of D&G Fashions, a store that sells ladies wear and plus sizes.

Florencio didn’t ask what I’m ordering, only how many.

“Tres, por favor,” I said, as I was feeling particularly hungry.

Florencio immediately goes to work, dicing onion and pineapple. Together with a fistful of flavored pork, Florencio tosses the mixture on the grill. The meat sizzles, wafting the smell of al pastor tacos to the street curb. The reaction causes my mouth to water like one of Pavlov’s dogs. By this time I am not alone.

Jenny Cosme walks up to the window, glancess briefly at the menu and orders one bistec and one chicken taco and waits patiently.

“Their food is good, and it’s healthy too,” says Cosme. “It’s healthier than the fast food because it’s on a grill.”

Cosme likes crema y pico de gallo, a mixture of raw onion, tomato and cilantro, on her tacos.

“They cut everything daily,” Coseme said while piling on the pico.

Taqueria Guadalupe at the corner of Manor and Westchester Avenues in the Soundview neighborhood. Photo by Matthew Huisman

Taqueria Guadalupe at the corner of Manor and Westchester Avenues in Soundview. Photo by Matthew Huisman

Florencio has been feeding his hungry neighbors in the Soundview neighborhood for more than seven years. He arrived in this country 20 years ago from Guerrero, a state in southwest Mexico known for its tourism and silver. Florencio says he has about 80 customers a day, enough to support his wife and four kids. A fifth is on the way.

But on the streets of the Bronx, where good, cheap and healthy food can be as scarce as a Phillies fan, Taqueria Guadalupe is one of the few places that offer a healthier alternative.

“It’s all fresh,” Florencio says in Spanish pointing to a tray of toppings. “We make it fresh every day.”

Spicy red salsa, avacado puree, pico de gallo and fresh lime are a few of the extras that Florencio offers his customers.

In a few minutes my order is up. I pay the $7.50 and walk back to the chairs. Steam rises from the plate in the cold air. The first bite is packed with pineapple. The sweet juice runs down my chin and I lap it up with a lick of my tongue.

“No sense in being proper when you’re on the sidewalk,” I muse, plowing through the first taco.

I had no problem with the second and third. The spicy pork, tangy lime and crisp onion make a heavenly treat wrapped in two corn tortillas.

Sidewalk dining at its finest.