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STREET TACOS FROM A GOOD HOME

by Britt Chester

editor@yesweekly.com | @awfullybrittish

“Family is everything,” Luciano Florez, 40, said behind the flat top grill in his latest addition to the Taqueria Luciano’s family of food trucks. “Every Saturday the whole family is working.”

Taqueria Luciano’s started out as a single food truck serving lunch outside of Krankies Coffee. Florez purchased the truck in 2009, “when the economy went bad,” he said, and will celebrate the sixth anniversary on June 29. He purchased the most recent Taqueria Luciano’s trailer just last year, and has been spending his Mondays parking outside of Hoots Bar serving patrons a great entrée to go with the local craft brews.

Florez prepares all of the food each day with his wife, Maria, and occasionally enlisting the help of his three children, Zoar (19), Vanesa (13), and Esdras (9). The day starts with preparing the steak, which he cuts and marinates in his chosen spices, preparing whole chickens before pulling the meat for marinating, and slicing, chopping, and spicing the various pork options on the menu.

The homemade rice and beans, a frequent flyer on most Mexican menus, are readied each day, as well.

Florez moved to Georgia from Veracruz, Mexico around 18 years ago. He got his start working in kitchens after moving to Sparta, North Carolina from Georgia.

“I started dishwashing, then a guy gave me an opportunity to come clean tables,” he recalled. “I learned the menu and then

moved up.”

Florez has worked in all sorts of restaurants, ranging from Waffle House to O’Charley’s, but owning his own food truck service has turned out to be the best thing for him. He’s also been able to construct a menu that satisfies his palate, and that of customers in the area.

Because food trucks lack the overhead of your typical brick-and-mortar eatery, Florez realized he can pass that savings onto the customers, which is a modestly priced, delicious meal of authentic Mexican cuisine.

But a simple taco order (four tacos for $6) can also mean having to choose between several different types of meat. Not a bad thing at all.

When the platter arrives, though, it’s a zesty venture into Mexican piquancy. The chicken and steak have a garlic tinge, pleasantly complimented by the additional spices Florez adds to the marinade. The pork really steals the show, though. It’s sinewy threads tear with each bite, dribbling juices down the back of the taco adding that much more flavor. Four tacos is a lot, but Florez adds just the right amount of meat, lettuce, onions and condiments to not make it too much for one person to handle. There is a habanero relish – just one of the three homemade options on the counter waiting to be added to your menu item – that will have your brow sweating before you swallow the first bite.

There’s something refreshing about authentic Mexican flavors, whether it’s the raw street taco style you’re ordering out of a trailer, or the crisp spices found in the tortas – Taqueria Luciano’s manages to create that home-cooked flavor profile and ambiance while being a mobile unit. That’s not an easy task, but Florez makes every customer feel

like his neighbor with engaging conversation and casual banter. Maybe it’s his own personality embedding itself in the food that gives it the personal feel, or the fact that he’s built his humble legacy from the ground up through hard work and dedication, it’s very present and obvious in each plate he hands through the window. And getting his whole family involved, which to him is the most important, helps Taqueria Luciano’s shed the business-customer relationship, revealing a personal dining experience with a genuinely happy chef. !

WANNA go?

Taqueria Luciano’s parks at Krankies for lunch Monday-Friday. The other food truck parks at Food Truck Court located at 751 W 4th Street in Winston-Salem. Tuesday and Friday nights find Taqueria Luciano’s at Old Winston Social Club, and on Monday nights you’ll find him at Hoots Roller Bar. The food truck also parks at Krankies Airstream on Saturdays.

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