Food & Drink

Taqueria La Familia food truck is longtime dream for Cedar Rapids chef

A pork tamale with salsa rojo and a steak taco with cilantro and onions from Taqueria La Familia on Friday, July 13, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
A pork tamale with salsa rojo and a steak taco with cilantro and onions from Taqueria La Familia on Friday, July 13, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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For years while he worked for his brother-in-law Guillermo Tellez’s roofing company, Josh Wilson talked about his goal to open a food truck. Now, Tellez and Wilson have teamed up to start Taqueria La Familia, a food truck serving up tacos, elotes, tamales, tortas and other Mexican cuisine.

Wilson takes Mondays and Thursdays off, and sometimes the truck is hired out for catering, but most days it can be found in a parking lot on the corner of Center Point Road NE and 32nd St. NE.

The taco truck combines Tellez’s heritage with Wilson’s love of cooking. Tellez invested the capital to purchase and outfit the truck, while Wilson handles the menu and operations.

Originally from Washington state, he went to culinary school on the East Coast and further honed his skills cooking in France before returning to the United States. Though he has worked at numerous restaurants in the area, he said, ultimately, roofing was better money. But he never gave up his restaurant dream.

“My dream in life has always been to own a food truck,” he said. “I said to my brother, ‘I’m getting too old to roof, I want a taco truck. I said that everyday for 10 years, and then on June 3, he actually bought it.”

Taqueria La Familia’s tacos are made with house-made tortillas, and come topped with tongue, chicken or steak. The elotes — Mexican street corn — are ears of sweet corn slathered with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder and lime.

“Everything we make is homemade. I wanted the menu to be really simple — it’s basically street food,” he said.

Simple doesn’t mean lacking in technique, however.

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“Even though you’ve had a taco, every taco is different,” he said. “How do you make your tortilla? What kind of masa do you use? The texture of the meat says something, even though it’s a very simple thing.”

He said the town where he grew up, Yakima, Washington, had a large Mexican immigrant population, and he grew up on the cuisine, eating at his friends’ dinner tables.

Though his original goal was to play professional baseball, an injury ended that dream. Cooking, however, was a close second.

“I’ve always wanted to cook. I like that when someone eats my food, there’s an emotional response,” he said. “Whether it’s good or bad, I just love seeing that response.”

The taqueria isn’t where Wilson’s dreams end. He and Tellez are already looking for a second truck to purchase, which Wilson envisions serving up what he calls “simple gourmet” food, like ahi tuna and muffaleta sandwiches and shrimp po’boys. Eventually, he would like a brick-and-mortart restaurant, serving up seafood, in the model of something like a Joe’s Crab Shack.

But they started with the taco truck, he said, because, “Everybody loves tacos. Everybody loves Mexican food.”

If you go

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

l What: Taqueria La Familia food truck

l Where: Most often found in parking lot of Point Liquor and Tobacco, 3221 Center Point Road NE., Cedar Rapids

l When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Hours subject to change; check Facebook page for updates.

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l Details: (319) 491-3874, facebook.com/Tacoman-Tacos-451264135345260. Taqueria La Familia only takes cash, for now.

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