Why does Alfonso Dominguez, owner of Oakland's Tamarindo, La Calle, and partial owner of Era Art Bar and Lounge, spend his free time hawking tacos from a bike? An avid cyclist and owner of six different bikes himself, we got the idea talking to him last week that Dominguez built El Taco Bike to prove it was possible in the first place.
We're in full support. Too few snack foods come off the back of bicycles these days.
In fact, Dominguez' brainchild is the first licensed hot food bike in the Bay Area -- maybe even in the state, as far as he knows. That meant he basically had to write the book on how to make the thing pass health code.
"They didn't know how to process it," he says.
Luckily, he's trained in design. "If I could design a building, I figured I could make a bicycle." It took eight months of back-and-forth, but finally the city felt he had a solid operation. The bike features compartments to keep his tacos warm, hot and cold sinks, a trash bin, a table to eat on -- even a napkin dispenser.
Also this: "I wanted to keep it traditional, real." Dominguez has recreated a system that operates in virtually every developing country, street cooks who serve up snack on the back of bicycles. "There's no food trucks in Mexico," he continued. "But food bikes are everywhere."
Accordingly, his tacos are authentically Mexican. Dominguez hawks steamed tacos de canasta, which translates to "basket tacos" -- snacks that are kept in a warm basket and steam throughout the day to a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Dominguez' treats are filled with papas, carnitas, and buche (pork stomach).
Better than an ice cream truck
El Taco Bike has been rolling the downtown Oakland streets and out to private events (the bulk of business at this point) since the beginning of July. All the world loves a bicycle these days, so El Taco Bike seems like a pretty strong business plan. Dominguez has plans to attend the next East Bay Bike Party with his culinary contraption -- and doesn't expect to still be the only one in the bike food game come summer 2012.
"I've only opened the gates. Trust me, everyone's been looking at that bike. Next summer it's going to be crazy." What's next, bike samosas? We can only dream.
Check in with El Taco Bike here to get in with Dominguez' tacos de canasta