The Taco Shack, the Newest Trend in Late Night Munchies, San Clemente Style
“It all started on a challenge,” says Pete Ortiz, founder of the Taco Shack, San Clemente’s new late-night taco stand. “What started out as a dare has turned out to be quite a successful business.”
Street food is the current trend in food and it’s all about location. The Taco Shack sits in front of Del Agave, dead center in the area known as The Triangle in San Clemente because of its three famous dive bars, Ole’s Tavern, The Red Fox and Goody’s.
The Taco Shack opens up on Friday and Saturday nights at 10:30 and goes until they sell out, and they do almost every night.
“I feel like I’m performing on a stage with the crowd that shows up. There is non-stop action with the normal bar crazies and believe it or not, the moms,” says Pete, co-owner of Café 207 and Del Agave. “It’s almost like Taco Cart confessions. When the housewives and moms finally get out of the house they go crazy and for some reason they like to tell me all about it.”
He doesn’t worry about things getting too out of hand with the drinkers, he says there’s a lot of San Clemente’s finest hanging around the area at that time keeping things under control. “It stays pretty mellow except for the girls “flashing” me hoping for a free taco!”
Pete says the police tell him he’s actually doing the city a service because instead of hopping in their cars and driving to get fast food after a night of drinking the partiers can just stumble over to the taco cart for refreshingly different munchies, not just the same old burger. He also says there’s been quite a rise in the number of taxis in the area, usually waiting in Antoine’s parking lot for those in need of a safe ride home.
“It’s funny, it seems like everyone ends up in that area around closing time. It’s not uncommon to see many of the local waitresses and bartenders stopping by after finishing their shifts for a bite. I even have one guy who sets his alarm to wake-up and come get a taco. It’s just nuts! We’ve even had a few people pull up to the curb, turn on their hazards, jump out to grab a taco or dog and off they go.”
Prices are $5.00 for 3 Cuban-style chicken mojo tacos made from breast meat and marinated for days in Pete’s special mix of citrus juices, garlic and spices. $4.00 gets you a ¼ pound 100% all-beef hot dog served up your choice of either chili-dog style or traditional street-dog style with grilled onions and peppers, both served on fresh potato buns with a secret sauce.