For 14 years, Alfredo Vargas has parked his taco truck on Southeast 111th Avenue between Foster Road and the
Beggars Tick Wildlife Refuge, right next to the entrance to Pick-n-Pull, a sprawling automobile junkyard that does big business.
It would be an understatement to call the area a food desert, and it's an unlikely tableau for high-quality street food. But then again, people who shop in junkyards are picky, budget-oriented consumers.
Vargas, 54, a native of Jalisco, Mexico, says his cart, Los Cactus, gets a lot of business from DIY mechanics and also from repeat customers who seek him out. He parks his rig in front of Pick-n-Pull every day except Sunday from 11 to 5, with a cooler full of icy Jarritos sodas, Mexican Cokes and orange Fanta.
A steady stream of automobile archaeologists flock to Pick-n-Pull, and many of them stop at Los Cactus for top-flight tacos ($1), tortas ($5) and burritos ($5). Vargas' carne asada, al pastor and chicken tacos are as good as anything you might find for three times the price at popular taco-and-margarita spots known for their lines. An aging reporter and a hungry teenager can eat their fill for $10, including tip.
Vargas knows he's offering a bargain, but he also likes talking to people and seeing them satisfied.
"I'd rather have more customers than more money," he says.
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