(Garrett Estrada photo) Felipe Gutierrez and Mario Gonzalez stand in front of the “Juanita’s Tacos” food truck in the Conoco gas station parking lot.

(Garrett Estrada photo)
Felipe Gutierrez and Mario Gonzalez stand in front of the “Juanita’s Tacos” food truck in the Conoco gas station parking lot.

Standing in front of his mom’s food truck “Juanita’s Tacos,” Mario Gonzalez takes customers orders with an enthusiastic smile. To Gonzalez, it’s a thrill getting to interact with the truck’s customers face to face; something he didn’t get to do before when his family was making ordered food out of their house. Hearing the positive word of mouth that has now been spreading around town, Gonzalez said he feels “blessed.”

“We come from a place where everything we do we have to work hard for it. To hear the compliments of the people, that they are satisfied with the food that we are giving to them, brings joy to us,” he said.

While being outside taking orders and working inside the truck is still a relatively new experience for Gonzalez, cooking side by side with his family is not. The young man’s passion for cooking was born out of family necessity. While his parents were working, he would stay at home and cook for his brothers and sisters. Later in life when the Gonzalez family was making food to order from their family kitchen, he knew he wanted to continue cooking for the rest of his life.

“I love it. This opportunity with the food truck is a way for me to try and save money for culinary college so I can do this as a career,” Gonzalez said.

With that goal in mind, Gonzalez knows that every customer that approaches Juanita’s Tacos is important. That’s why he is always so excited to greet and serve them, because both him and his family had to make a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. First Gonzalez’s father was deported, then the family had to move out of Las Vegas when the job opportunities there dried up. After bouncing around Nevada for a few years, Gonzalez’s mother Juanita decided to settle down in Ely.

“A lot of things happened along the way that didn’t let us realize everything we wanted to do. So my mom saved up some money and bought this food truck. We already had customers before so we started getting the word out that we were going to sell food again and those people became excited and spread the word. That meant so much to us as we were just getting started all over again,” Gonzalez said.

As for his mom, whose name adorns the backside of the truck, she couldn’t be more thrilled that the family is working together in the kitchen again.

“I’m just so happy that we have customers enjoying our food and I’m so proud that we get to work together as a family to make this happen,” she said.

The truck serves a variety of classic Mexican inspired dishes including enchiladas, burritos and carne asada tacos, but Gonzalez said that he is excited to also bring some more exotic choices to a town that didn’t serve them before.

“We have some things I think people might not have tried before like cow tongue. I think it’s delicious and great to be able to offer it and other different choices on our menu to bring that authentic Mexican taste that my family has been cooking up for years,” Gonzalez said.

Juanita’s Tacos is located inside the Concoco Gas Station parking lot on Great Basin Highway.