OC Weekly’s Viva los Tacos is going down this Saturday, and after drooling over El Pepino Loco’s Instagram account, I knew they’d make one tasty interview. Victor Torres may be the spokesman in my Q & A, but chef/relative Alfonso is our photographer’s subject in the kitchen, as Audrey’s photos show.
Where can customers usually find you? Do you have a regular route?
We currently have two stops. The first is at 2020 E. First St., Santa Ana, which is our main one. Our second is at 2717 S. Main St., Santa Ana. We are also located inside Santa Ana College. We are currently working on a second truck for more locations.
What do you suggest for first-timers?
I suggest trying one of each, or sharing with your friends with our shareable options and portions.
How does El Pepino Loco differentiate itself from similar trucks?
We offer fresh, prepared fruit and authentic Mexican munchies, differentiating it from the traditional taco truck.
Favorite appliance or utensil that isn’t a knife.
Best culinary advice for the home cook.
Fresh ingredients, Mom’s recipes, right cooking temperatures.
What is the most popular flavor, and do you have a favorite?
Yes. My favorite flavor is Mango. I believe it is also the most popular flavor.
Most important quality you look for when hiring staff for your truck?
We are currently family-owned and operated, but the most important quality I will be looking for is friendliness.
What is your guilty pleasure food?
Tacos with an agua fresca.
Favorite places to eat.
Japanese and ramen restaurants.
What’s in the Sandia Loca?
The Sandia Loca has watermelon, mango, Pepinos Locos, jicama straws, orange slices, peanuts, candy and chamoy.
An unusual customer request, and did you do it?
A Sandia Loca with lechera (condensed milk). Yes.
When did you realize that you wanted to open a truck?
Since I was 14, I wanted to be a business owner one day. And at 15, my dad got me my first job where he worked at as a dishwasher. I saw how hard my dad worked, and eventually learned how to work in the kitchen like him. I would cover for him numerous times, and saw that I had potential to help, so I knew I needed to open something up of our own. Something distinct.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Santa Ana all my life.
Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
I’m really funny and sarcastic.
Last thing you looked up online:
The news/OC Register.
You’re making breakfast; what are you having?
Chilaquiles with a huevo estrellado, salsa and queso fresco.
What other skills do you have outside of the kitchen?
I know a bit about cars, business and connecting others.
What profession would you like to try if you weren’t in this business?
I’d like to try firefighting.
Do you know what you’ll be serving at the OC Weekly event?
We will have samples of our full menu at Viva Los Tacos.
Follow El Pepino Loco on Instagram @elpepinoloco_714.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.