Since Chef Roy Choi opened the first gourmet food truck in Los Angeles in 2008 to sell Korean barbecue tacos, the industry has rocketed. From 2011-2016, the mobile food sector has grown almost four times faster than the steadily growing restaurant industry based on national from market research firm IBISWorld. Locally, the inaugural Flagstaff Food Truck Festival was held this past summer and drew large crowds to the City Hall parking lot to get a taste of food from local trucks as well as some from Phoenix and Tucson.
One of the newest additions to the mobile eatery scene in Flagstaff is Alejandro’s Mexican Food. Owner Georgette Quintero got the idea to start a business after spending the past 14 years as a high school teacher and cooking for her family.
“My kids were always asking me to cook. Even when we did have money to eat out they never let me get a break,” she says. “Instead of going out anywhere they wanted me to cook.”
It took two years for her to figure out the logistics of getting a loan and then purchasing the trailer before “the dream became a reality,” she says.
Named after her oldest son, the food truck first began serving authentic Mexican food in the beginning of October 2017 after securing the permits necessary to park at C-A-L Ranch. They then celebrated their official grand opening on Oct. 21 at the Flagstaff Farmers Market on 4th Street with mariachi bands and experimented with a late-night schedule downtown in the parking lot of Vino Loco and Late for the Train before ending up at Tractor Supply.
“We actually just came in here for propane and the manager said, ‘Hey, come park out here,’” she says. “We wanted to find a regular place so Tractor Supply has been really good to us. We really like it here.”
The dark blue food truck advertises tacos, burritos and carne asada fries to the busy stretch of East Historic Route 66 at Arrowhead Avenue, beckoning hungry travelers to their kitchen.
Their menu sticks to the basics, offering street tacos and burritos wrapped in tortillas from the Tortilla Lady, chimichangas with the option of five different meats seasoned to perfection, quesadillas and fries, all for under $10 each, making it a reasonable stop for budget diners. They also offer menudo and tamales on occasion.
Half of the reviews on their Facebook page are in praise of the carne asada, one of their more popular menu items. Quintero was the reigning queen of carne asada, but when she began looking for a cook to work in the food truck, she wanted someone who could beat her in a taste test. She was impressed by Simon Alberto Ramirez’s work at Monsoon downtown and asked him if he’d be interested in cooking for her.
“I invited him over to the house for a barbecue, and his challenge was beating me at carne asada,” she says. “It was close, but he was really, really good so that’s kind of how he got the job.”
From there, they worked together to build the menu and continue to adjust it as they learn what items are well-received.
“We let our customers sort of define what our menu is going to look like,” Quintero explains. “If it doesn’t sell then it kind of drops off the menu, [but] if it does sell then it starts to get more attention from us and we put it out more.”
Alejandro, her younger son Joey and her daughter Ariana help out the business by taking orders from customers, and Quintero hopes they might each run their own locations someday.
“I want this to be a family owned and operated business,” she says. “We’re a really close-knit family.”
“[Ramirez] is like a jack of all trades, and hopefully he’s running a truck or cooking for them and distributing the food,” she adds. “He’s become an instant part of the family and helps out with everything. He’s the cook, the mechanic, the driver.”
With plans to expand, get into catering and hire more employees, Quintero doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon. They even parked at the Museum Club during their busy weekend-long New Year’s reopening party which saw over 800 people through the door of the venue the first night.
“Our next challenge is eventually getting a brick and mortar [location],” Quintero says.
In the meantime, people can find Alejandro’s Mexican Food parked at Tractor Supply, 2020 Historic East Route 66, from roughly 2-10 p.m. Find them on Facebook or call (623) 694-2108 for updates on locations and operating times.