Birria tacos have been taking the country by storm. The goat-based taco dish is served with a broth called consomé that takes everything spectacular about a traditional taco and elevates it to the upper echelon of tastiness. I recently tried this incredible dish in Orlando, and thought that I wouldn’t see another birria taco for months. That all changed one fateful Wednesday as I was walking through the East Lake Food Truck Park. A light seemed to shine down on a truck ahead of me. I slowly walked towards it - guarded but also eager with anticipation. What would be at the end of this journey? The answer was Tacos Toluca, a Pinson-based food truck that merges two family histories in a way that makes your taste buds holler with glee. 

While I thought this new (to me) food truck miracle only consisted of birria tacos, I soon learned it was an even more beautiful concept. Jesus Ramirez founded Tacos Toluca nearly 5 years ago. He grew up with his mom selling food in Mexico, and was always struck by how she showed her love through cooking. He felt inspired to do the same, and knew from the moment he started working in restaurants at an early age that he wanted to be his own boss one day. He went to culinary school at the age of 19 before eventually taking his talents to Alabama. He first opened the store inside of the Citgo gas station that the food truck now sits outside of, but passersby weren’t able to see the restaurant. The gas station owner and Jesus decided that Tacos Toluca being more visible with a food truck out front would benefit both of them.

The move outside was a success, and Jesus had wonderful assistance at the restaurant with Nayelly who’d been working with him since the earliest stages. He then met his future wife, Daisy Reyes, while at the same church. Her family also had a long history of proudly making food with love, and their Honduran dishes brought new possibilities to the truck. Mexican spices would soon combine with Caribbean flavors and California dishes (Daisy moved here from San Diego) to create a menu unlike any other in the city.

Toluca, the state of Mexico that Jesus’ family calls home, is known for their chorizo – making any menu item featuring the meat a great choice. The asada is another top seller, with beef head and chicharon (pork skin) providing other exciting options. Gorditas and sopes join a refreshing list of agua fresca, carne asada fries, and more to make this menu a can’t-miss. 

The birria tacos are the current favorites and come from a long line of the couple blending their family’s cooking backgrounds.  The dish has been made in thousands of jaw-dropping ways but Tacos Toluca’s meat-filled broth is unlike any other found in the nation as it contains ingredients passed down from Daisy’s mother’s sacred cookbook. It’s so good that people ask for the broth as its own meal! The Honduran influence not only makes these dishes shine, but is featured prominently as Daisy makes baleadas every other weekend, and Honduran enchiladas are also commonly available.

Jesus, Daisy, and Nayelly love coming up with new ideas for the menu, and many of the items have become fan favorites. They take suggestions too. For example, Daisy’s cousin Miriam suggested they add California burritos, which contain french fries, carne asada, guacamole, and a medley of fantastic flavors. They also recently experimented with a pumpkin flower quesadilla, and are next bringing a shrimp taco with flavors from Puebla, Mexico. They find joy in experimenting and expanding on customer ideas.

The recent growth at Tacos Toluca has been astounding (and much deserved). They are about to open a second truck to continue expanding. They are also adding more events throughout the city to their schedule - with events Downtown, Leeds, East Lake, and Ensley up next.  “We love to participate in different events because we want to take our flavor out there. Especially our family traditions as well. Their taste and how we do things.”

Despite all this exciting growth, the team behind this great success remains focused and thankful to those who’ve supported them. From their dedicated weekly customers, to their uplifting church congregation and the diverse population of Birmingham who choose to branch out and try something new. They are equally thankful for both of their moms who instilled a love of cooking in each of them. Jesus’ brother’s family really helped the truck in early stages. Daisy’s brother operates a Honduran food truck called The Latin Effect in Durham, North Carolina and is another inspiration. A special thank you was also given to their former pastor and Daisy’s uncle, Javier Godoy, who sadly passed away this last December. He was a mentor to Jesus and gave him the final push needed to start the business by saying “This is your baby, get it started. This is what God has in store for you. Get it done. You’ll be able to do it, and it’ll grow and become successful.” They continue to operate the store with his legacy in mind, and to live both families’ “dream of sharing our food with different flavors.” Jesus says his biggest thanks of all though goes to his wife, who handles all of the social media and other administrative duties.

The couple is proud to call Birmingham home, and they are excited to share cooking made with love in their homes with the general public - so they can get a bite of Mexico, Honduras, and San Diego at a gas station in Alabama.

Lead Photo: Tacos Toluca