Of all the food trends to take off during the last decade, taco trucks are perhaps the most popular form of fast food dining in the 209. The taco truck invasion has taken over Valley streets, giving local restaurants some serious competition.
One Turlock mobile Mexican food vendor is a bit different than the rest. “Viva Taco Bus,” located on 49 West Canal Drive, not only breaks convention by using a dine-in bus instead of a truck but the eatery also has an expanded menu with over 65 items.
“At VTB we sell single items that include tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, taquitos, quesadillas and chimichangas,” said VTB owner Silvestre Valencia. “We have specialty plates and for those who have a big appetite we serve combination plates with rice and beans. We also serve breakfast early in the morning. Everything that I prepare is completely authentic.”
The prices are affordable too. Personal favorites such as Camarones a la Diabla (spicy shrimp) with rice and beans cost only $7 while two tacos and a tamale costs $4.50.
“At other restaurants, Camarones a la Diabla can cost up to $15 and I sell it for half the price,” said Valencia. “Due to the stiff competition around town I try to keep my prices affordable for my customers. The taste and prices I offer are of a taco truck with the comfort and service of a restaurant.”
Valencia has been in the restaurant business for 44 years and was the previous owner of El Antojito Restaurant in Turlock for almost 18 years.
“After I decided to close up the restaurant I wanted to do something different,” said Valencia. “Food is all I’ve known and I wanted to start up something different that’s never been seen. Eight years ago I purchased this bus and have been working here since. My love for cooking authentic Mexican food has kept me going for all these years.”
VTB is not only affordable, but the dining experience is completely unconventional. The full blown bus has a counter style seating inside complete with air conditioning.
“I designed VTB as a full service kitchen and dining inside so I can interact with customers,” said Valencia. “At other taco trucks you don’t get the same interaction and you don’t see how the food is prepared. At VTB you could see what I’m cooking and how clean my working environment is.”
VTB attracts hundreds of customers a day according to Valencia.
“It’s a unique atmosphere,” said customer Jason Carkeet. “What keeps me coming every time are the sauces. He’s got the best homemade sauces in town. The location is ideal as well. It’s an easy walk from my work.”
Others enjoy the dining experience and pleasant atmosphere inside the bus. VTB is also vegetarian friendly and accommodates orders based on customer’s needs.
“I cannot believe I drove past this place for most of my life and never stopped to try it out,” said customer Chris Barajas. “I really regret going to the other taco trucks around town. Once I tried the food I was hooked. He also has pictures inside so you can see everything on the menu before you order.”
VTB is located on 49 West Canal Drive in Turlock and is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
— NANCY ANGEL
209 staff reporter