The festival will be just as much of a flavor destination for taco enthusiasts, too. A Cubano taco with pork, tropical slaw and crispy cheese from Clandestina Cocina? A Japanese karaage one from Tokachi Musubi? How about a taco árabe with lamb from Delicioso — a take on the Poblano classic, which swaps out corn tortillas for folded pita bread?
For vendors like Kitiya Diparte of the Thai pop-up Kitiya, it’s a chance to test out new ideas — like their braised pork belly taco with pickled green papaya, cilantro and spicy sauce.
“During the pandemic, I diversified my business with my jarred sauces and curry pastes, so I’m looking forward to showcasing this sauce on my taco,” Diparte says.
For others like Aaron Stewart of MexiQ, a Mexican-inspired barbecue fusion pop-up rooted in East Oakland, it’s simply a chance to flex bold cuisine in a fresh, tortilla-wrapped context.
“As a classically French trained chef, I absolutely love the versatility of a taco,” says Stewart, who will be debuting his smoked lamb rib tacos rubbed in chipotle adobo and wrapped in banana leaves. “It’s going to be fun to take an ingredient like lamb ribs, which is usually reserved for fine dining, and put it in a street food–style taco.”
Tacolado will be La Cocina’s first big outdoor event since the pandemic. Despite the unexpected closure of its Tenderloin food hall earlier this fall, the new festival is a sign that the decades-strong community org doesn’t plan to slow down. The nonprofit has helped launch many of the Bay Area’s most exciting food businesses. Now, it’s merely ensuring that it continues to nourish the community — one scoop of ice cream and one taco bite at a time.