Summer guide to food trucks and pop-ups
Vegan/Vegetarian Venezuelan Arpas
Find: Breweries and events throughout the county
Caracas-native Vrinda Quintero arepas are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free without sacrificing any of the flavor this traditional Venezuelan dish is known for using meaty jackfruit, black beans, and refried plantains. Her business is woman-owned and operated and focuses on addressing social justice issues while building agency and community through food.
Dos Hermanos Pupuseria
Find: At events, farmers markets, and on campus at UC Santa Cruz
Dos Hermanos pupusas—grilled masa cakes stuffed with beans, cheese, and shredded meat from El Salvador—are one of those comfort foods that always keep you satisfied. Cut all that hearty, melt-in-your-mouth goodness with a fermented crunch and spice edge curtido Where Salsa Roja.
Mexican Food El Rey Leon
Tacos, burritos and tortas
Find: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 12890 Highway 9, Ben Lomond
El Rey Leon’s classic Mexican cuisine menu includes regional classics like Baja fish tacos, quesabirria and pambazo tortas, and churro cheesecake.
Mexican cuisine La Perrona
Find: Monday-Friday, 12-2 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m., Saturday 4:30-9 p.m. at 251 E. Lake Ave., Watsonville
All of La Perrona’s tacos are served on homemade tortillas, which is reason enough to seek out this taco truck in Watsonville, where burritos, tortas, and quesadillas are served with love.
Loaves & Ceviches
Ceviche and seafood tacos
Find: Thursday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 1459 Freedom Blvd, Watsonville, and special events
Miches & Ceviches prepares vibrant and flavorful Mexican seafood like mango white fish ceviche and red, black or green aquachiles. Use his house mix Miche to liven up your dish or mix it in a Bloody Mary or Clamato.
My mother’s mole
Mexican cuisine with homemade mole
Find: Weekends at Watsonville breweries and wineries, and at events
Cesario Ruiz loved cooking since he was a kid growing up outside of Guanajuato, Mexico. In Santa Cruz County, he developed a dehydrated mole made from chili peppers, spices, and chocolate that tastes just like the one his mother used to make. In his pop-ups, find his trademark mole incorporated into modern versions of nachos, enmoladas and bowls.
💥 Pana food truck
Find: Tuesday through Friday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 2738 Mission St. in Santa Cruz, plus brewpubs and events
In colloquial Spanish, a “pana” is a close friend, but Pana arepas are so tasty you won’t want to share them with even your closest friends. Here, cornmeal arepas are made Venezuelan style — grilled on a flat top, sliced and stuffed with toppings like shredded beef and cheddar cheese or black beans, tomatoes and plantains for a satisfying meal. Don’t forget the garlic sauce!
The real taco
Tacos, burritos and nachos
Find: Tuesday and Friday, noon-8:30 p.m. at Humble Sea Brewing (820 Swift St., Santa Cruz); Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. at 1204 Mission St., Santa Cruz
Real Taco serves classic Mexican street food in style, including crispy quesabirria tacos stuffed with avocado and shredded meat and creamy Baja-style fried fish tacos. Keep an eye out for specialties like pozole rojo, chicken tinga and stuffed green peppers.
💥 Tacos El Chuy
Tacos, burritos and nachos
Find: Saturday, 3-8 p.m. at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing (402 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz)
Chuy serves nachos, quesadillas, and burritos, but his street tacos, in particular, are outstanding. A fan favorite is the spit-roasted al pastor, served with warm slices of juicy pineapple. Boost the flavor with fiery homemade condiments and salsas.
Tacos El Jerry
Tacos, tortas and burritos
Find: Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight at 35 E. Lake Ave. in Watsonville; Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2418 Freedom Blvd., Corralitos
Tacos El Jerry serves classic Mexican dishes including tortas, tacos and burritos. Fans love her grilled and cheesy quessabirra tacos and mulitas. Find the brightly colored trucks in the Watsonville area at least five days a week.
Find: Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. at 1995 41st Ave. in Santa Cruz, and events
At Taquizas Gabriel, everything revolves around the quesabirria. Corn tortillas slide into enchilada sauce before being grilled with cheese and shredded meat. They’re melty, crispy and juicy, and even better garnished with cilantro, onions and homemade salsa.