The Santa Ana City Council is praising itself for enacting new regulations on taco trucks that were done in conjunction with loncheros, which is kind of like the massa congratulating his slave for self-flagellation. Let the loncheras roam free of any laws! An unregulated market is what put SanTana’s taco trucks on the regional map in the first place, and any effort at making them play ball with the city is a guaranteed disaster—just ask the chili queens of San Antonio how city-sponsored booths worked out for them in the 1930s.
Give me the taco trucks that defend liberty. Give me El Taco Perrón, which parks at one spot during the day and another in the evening, with nary a complaint from its customers. It has one of the best names in Orange County—”Big Dog Tacos” literally, but actually meaning “Badass Tacos”—and also one of the most distinct tacos: Its namesake is a giant on a just-made flour tortilla, with refried beans, cheese and your choice of meat. It’s like eating a combo plate sans rice and that annoying salad, but far better: the creaminess of the beans mixed with the juicy meat and luscious cheese (don’t forget to add pickled red onions and any of its blistering salsas) make for one full meal; two is gluttony.
Get the Taco Perrón, but also get one of its specialty, non-taco dishes. The lonchera is one of the few places in la naranja to serve gorditas, and one of about three to make pichangas, which is like an engorged quesadilla. Even better are the picaditas, a specialty of Veracruz that are like crema- and salsa-smeared sopes. Throw in mulitas, alambres and huaraches, and you’ve got a great primer for Mexico City-style food.
I don’t know the owners of El Taco Perrón, but they shouldn’t be too affected by the new regulations. That said, don’t forget Martin Niemöller’s famous poem: First, Santa Ana officials came for the eloteros, and people did not speak out. Then they came for the mango ladies and Mexican beer bars, and people didn’t speak out. Be vigilant, taco fans and taco owners alike: Soon, Santa Ana will come for ustedes.
El Taco Perrón, on the corner of Bishop and Main streets (mornings) or the corner of Walnut and Main streets (evenings), Santa Ana.