In fact, the moment I saw the name and then added the listing for the Mariscos Jalisco food truck into FoodTrucksIn.com I was hooked. I had not met the owner, had not eaten at the truck and was not even aware of its existence until I came across an article in which it was mentioned. I was simply transfixed by the name. As it happened, I have spent quite a bit of time in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico and, since my memories of being there are so great, the name Mariscos Jalisco took me right back to Puerto Vallarta, and you'll see why!
Shortly after their listing was added to FoodTrucksIn.com, I noticed that Raul, the owner, and Chuy, the general manager, began using FoodTrucksIn.com to Check-In everyday. I have enjoyed seeing where both of their trucks are "Serving Now" in Los Angeles .
So, I simply decided to satisfy curiosity and whet my appetite by touching base with Raul and had a lovely interaction. I hope you enjoy getting to know him as much as I have.
Eric: I am embarrassed to admit that I only recently learned about your truck. Apparently you have been around for quite some time!
Raul: We actually started on September 06, 2002. There were definitely none of the "Gourmet Trucks" or "Fusion Trucks," to speak of, that you can find now.
Eric: I have to ask what is the single biggest difference between now and when you started 12 years ago?
Raul: With so many great high quality trucks on the road now the biggest difference is the challenge to find parking spots at prime locations. It is much more competitive than it used to be.
Eric: How did you end up starting a food truck long before they were popular?
Raul: I had worked at various jobs including selling beef head tacos. I saw a need to better represent and improve what others were doing with a product from my hometown in Mexico.
Eric: So let's talk about your hometown and the name of your truck!
Raul: Mariscos Jalisco. "Mariscos" means Seafood in Spanish and "Jalisco" is the State in Mexico where I was born and grew up..
Eric: I have spent a lot of time in Puerto Vallarta (which is in the Mexican state of Jalisco) and the surrounding area. In many ways I think the root of my food truck obsession started with my exposure to the street food in Mexico!
Raul: Our goal is to bring that experience you had in Mexico to the streets of Los Angeles. We are so proud of our food. Everyone that comes to our truck, whether at our two locations or at food festivals are blown away. At a James Beard Foundation event, a Chef from France was so disappointed with the "Mexican" food he had in Santa Monica that he refused to try our food. The translator that accompanied him urged him to try our taco after she had tried one. He took a bite and rushed over to us to thank us for restoring his faith in "Mexican Food". He was just blown away by the texture, taste and presentation.
Eric: I feel like a West Coast trip with a possible stop in Puerto Vallarta is in my future. What should I eat when I visit you?
Raul: Come visit! We treat our customers like family. It would definitely have to be our shrimp taco. You just can't find anything like it, even in my native Mexico.
Eric: Do you have any other popular or special menu items?
Raul: Our shrimp taco is one of our most popular items. We also offer some "Secret Menu" items. The Poseidon is really popular. It is a tostada which consists of shrimp ceviche, avocado, cooked octopus and our super spicy shrimp aguachile.
Eric: Los Angeles is often credited with being at the start of the street food movement in the US. What are some advantages and disadvantages of being in LA?
Raul: Biggest advantage is definitely the acceptance of food trucks by the general public and the disadvantage is the number of trucks involved in this business which makes finding a location to expand to more difficult.
Eric: Yet, you have expanded and are expanding further?
Raul: Yes, we have been very fortunate. We have wonderful customers. We added our second truck in January of 2013 and our third truck will roll out sometime in March or April of this year.
Eric: Do you still work on the truck?
Raul: Absolutely, wouldn't have it any other way. It's a lot of hard work that goes into every bite of our food. An immense effort by all involved to be super consistent with our final product.
Eric: You have been doing this for a long time. You must have some great memories!
Raul: We are very proud of every single mention by food critics, Chefs, bloggers, our customers and various media outlets. We are especially proud of being included in Jonathan Gold's 101 Best Restaurants, being that there are only two food trucks on that list.