Every bite of this taco is like a revelation of flavor.
The soft, tender meat collides with the fresh crispness of the diced cabbage and the tart spiciness of the bright orange salsa. "You eat one, and you want another until your body says 'no,'" laughs Ricardo Carrillo, proprietor of Tacos El Líder, an unassuming taco truck parked in a lot along a busy highway in San Jose.
He's not wrong. Carrillo's puerco al horno tacos are unlike any you may have had in the Bay Area—a region well known for its wide variety of incredible Mexican food. What sets his tacos apart from the rest?
They are filled with meat from an entire pig that is roasted for about six hours. Carrillo says that by doing it this way, the fat from the pig ends up tenderizing the meat, making it incredibly succulent. Not to mention that you get bits of crispy pig skin mixed in with each bite.
No other taco truck in the Bay Area makes this type of taco. The entire process is one that Carrillo and his wife, Maritza Acevedo, have painstakingly perfected through trial and error. "For me, it's not just a taco. It's an experience," says Carrillo.
Tacos El Líder was born out of the desire that Carrillo and his wife had to recreate the flavors of their home of Nayarit—a region of western Mexico nestled between Sinaloa and Jalisco along the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps the most special aspect of Carrillo's tacos is the reaction they get from those who were also born and bred in Nayarit. The tacos are a simple yet powerful reminder of home.
Watch the video above to hear more of Carrillo's story and see how these one-of-a-kind tacos are made.
Mike Kuba can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org