.Is This Santa Cruz’s Best-Kept Taco Secret?

I’ve never felt more conflicted about covering a culinary business in this town than I do about Tacos El Chuy.

After eating dozens of Jesus Falcon’s tacos over many months, it still wasn’t an easy decision to write about them. Because, here’s the thing—Tacos El Chuy are the best. They’re so good that I want to keep them all to myself.

Approach his operation at a local brewery, and you’ll be confronted with a white-board menu of half a dozen options for fillings ranging from $2.50 to $3. I always order the al pastor. The marinated pork, topped with a whole pineapple, roasts nearby on a vertical spit, and as Falcon prepares the tacos he slices off bits of the caramelized meat, tosses it on a griddled tortilla and finishes it with a warm, juicy slice of pineapple, finely diced onions, cilantro and grilled onions.

It’s incredible as is, but if you’re not afraid of a little spice, the flavors are enhanced by the nearby house-made condiments. I add one or two of Falcon’s green and red salsas and a generous sprinkling of escabeche, but be careful—the slivers of orange in the pickled onion mixture are habanero pepper. Too much of a good thing can lead to an eye-watering, mouth-numbing experience.

Falcon’s tacos are the kind of good that makes you close your eyes and feel the stress of the day leave your shoulders. I eat them every week instead of going to yoga, and I swear I have reached the same meditative state.

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Falcon learned how to make them in his home state of Querétaro, Mexico, where he says “Each and every person has their own recipe and way to make them.”

When he arrived in the U.S. two years ago, he tried different recipes and eventually decided to use his own. On their journey, says Falcon, he met two “angels,” Pepe Palacios and Emily Thomas, a brewer and the owner of Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, which hosts Tacos El Chuy every Tuesday and Saturday night. “They gave me the opportunity to really bring up my business,” he says.

Falcon will soon be upgrading Tacos El Chuy from a pop-up to a food truck.



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