Food & Drink

Taste of Mexico City: Moys Food from the Streets channels chef's childhood

Food truck with taco-centric menu hopes to expand to brick-and-mortar restaurant

The menu at Moys Food from the Streets food truck includes El Triple, a plate with one of each of the three tacos, (from left) al pastor (pork) marinated with achiote sauce, pollo loco (chicken) marinated with tamarind and carne asada (steak) marinated with dried chilies. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
The menu at Moys Food from the Streets food truck includes El Triple, a plate with one of each of the three tacos, (from left) al pastor (pork) marinated with achiote sauce, pollo loco (chicken) marinated with tamarind and carne asada (steak) marinated with dried chilies. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Moises Yescas, who goes by Moy, gets some of his culinary inspiration from family. His carne asada sauce, for example, is based on his grandmother Isabel’s mole sauce, which he remembers from his childhood in Mexico City.

“I grew up cooking with my mom and my grandma,” he said.

He moved to the United States about 23 years ago to work in restaurants his family owned in Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota, and he relocated to Cedar Rapids in 2003 and worked at GE Capital. His wife, Angelique Yescas, also worked there before they were both laid off.

As they considered their next steps, the idea for a food truck was born. Their mobile restaurant, Moys Food from the Streets, started rolling last August before they had to park it for the winter in October. This will be their first full season is business.

“We wanted the flavors of Mexican cuisine from Mexico City, rather than Tex-Mex,” Angelique said. “We want people to have a little taste of Mexico City here.”

Their menu is small and focused on tacos. The pollo loco taco features chicken marinated in a tamarind and hibiscus sauce, the al pastor is pork marinated in achiote sauce and topped with grilled pineapple, and the carne asada is steak marinated with a mix of chile and spices. All tacos are served on corn tortillas, topped with onion, cilantro and cheese, with a wedge of lime to squeeze on top, along with small batch salsas. They also serve sides like nachos, and for morning events, they may break out breakfast tacos, grilled potatoes and tres leches hot cakes.

“I like to create dishes. Cooking is a passion for me. It’s a great way to get my stress out,” Moy said. “I play with a lot of dishes, not just Mexican food ... I experiment a lot and make new dishes.”

A good taco starts with a good, fresh tortilla and good flavors, he said.

“The tortilla shouldn’t fall apart,” he said. “It must be the right temperature and not too hard, not too soft, to hold the meat.”

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While Moy handles the food, Angelique runs the business side of the food truck. She said entrepreneurship has long been a dream — she likes that she can dive into all aspects of the business, from accounting to marketing, rather than having to focus on one thing.

“My parents both own their own businesses,” she said. “I wanted to be able to dabble in everything ... and I love that I get to see my customers face to face.”

They decided on a food truck rather than a brick and mortar store because it required less capital to get started.

“This seemed like a good way to break into the industry and get our feet in the door,” she said. “It’s a great way to jump in on a smaller scale.”

Their plans aren’t staying parked, however. They are already working on a concept for a second food truck with different cuisine and are putting together a business plan for a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

For now, customers can find them throughout the summer at Greene Square during Food Truck Fridays, at NewBo City Market every other Wednesday during lunch, at some Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers’ Markets and during live events at McGrath Amphitheatre. They also partner with local businesses to park outside and serve lunch, including at Nordstrom, Schneider Electric and Cargill.

Their tagline, “Local y loco,” epitomizes their philosophy, which is also summed up in their logo, a luchador mask. Luchadores are the masked stars of lucha libre, Mexican professional wrestling. Moy said he always loved watching lucha libre when he was growing up, and the masks are a recognizable representation of Mexican popular culture.

“Since we are doing street food, we wanted something that expresses the culture and the energy we put into our food,” Angelique said. “We hope our food is a good kick to your taste buds.”

IF YOU GO:

l What: Moys Food from the Streets

l Where and when: Various Cedar Rapids locations; follow Facebook page for updates

l Details: (319) 481-TACO (8226), Moysfoodtruck.com or facebook.com/moysfoodtruck

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.