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Patterson locals dub local taco truck congregation Taco Island
Hungry locals in Patterson try to get ahead of the lunch rush by showing up early to order their meals at Taco Island. - photo by Brooke Borba

PATTERSON - Looking for an authentic Mexican meal that isn’t going to break the bank? Whether you have an appetite for chorizos (Mexican sausage), asada (beef), or even tripa (intestines), Patterson’s local taco trucks can supply your needs for just pennies on the dollar.

The cost of tacos range from $1 to $1.25, while a large quesadilla that will not even fit on a paper plate costs roughly $5, or less depending on toppings.

Personal favorites such as a ceviche tostadas cost $2.50 to $3, and the most a customer ever have to pay for a large burrito is $6. Due to the stiff competition from the varying trucks, prices are significantly lower than any other taco trucks located in Stanislaus County.

“We try to keep everything affordable,” said employee Mario Gonzalez. “People work hard for what they have, and need a break from work. We try to accommodate that.”

Patterson’s Taco Island prices are not only convenient, but so is its location, which attracts hundreds of customers a day within a one-hour span, according to chef Hernando Gonzalez.  Roughly four years ago, taco trucks began to congregate at the corner of M and North 1st Street, near the historic museum located at the center of Patterson.

The trucks are in an ideal location for local neighborhoods, and near the gateway of the city’s entrance off of Las Palmas Avenue, which directly links to Modesto, Turlock, Ceres, and Fresno.

With such an ideal location, and up to six trucks taking station in the dirt lot, it wasn’t long before locals dubbed the gathering trucks as “Taco Island.” It became the ultimate hot spot for lunch breaks and late night burrito runs.

“It was originally called ‘Taco Island’ because there used to be at least four trucks there at one time,” said Patterson native JD Jordan. “After a while, they surrounded the area with a fence, which gave it that secluded feeling, so they started calling it ‘Taco Island.’ I don’t know who started it, but the name just stuck.”

But it isn’t just the appeal of having a large selection with fewer lines. The food is actually good, according to loyal customers.

“I doubt you’ll find anything better in our area,” said Jordan. “I strongly believe they have the best burritos in town.”

Born and raised Patterson native Jim Bridges has had the unique opportunity to travel the world, and has been to Germany, France, Libya, Korea, the Philippines, and various other countries during his service in the military.

The 66-year-old retiree has eaten just about every authentic dish that a single person could consume, but still finds Mexican food to be among his top favorites. In his opinion, the best Mexican cuisine is located within his own backyard.

“I will only go to one taco truck,” said Bridges about El Portal, one of more popular taco trucks located at “Taco Island.” “Their burritos are done real well, and they know what they are doing. They don’t use soupy beans, and they really pack in your choice of meat. They don’t leave it hollow.”

Bridges contends that the town’s demographic, which  is over 50 percent Hispanic, makes their food more authentic than sit-down eateries elsewhere.

“I truly believe that the best Mexican food you can get is from a taco truck,” said Bridges.

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