Food Truck Craving: Tacos Vicente's Al Pastor Tacos

David Hitz of Tacos Vicente.

Photos: Lesa Griffith

Running a food truck is hard work. Too much, it turned out, for the owners of Gogi Korean Taco Truck, which shut down in May even though it had a strong following. So it’s a miracle that Tacos Vicente even exists—its three partners are full-time Brigham Young University students. Which may explain why they’ve cut back their truck hours lately. If you can catch them, pound the brakes and make a pit stop.

I trekked to the North Shore on the recommendation of two young chefs (who don’t wish to upset the food-truck cart by being identified). I found the lime green truck in the Haleiwa Food Court (the dirt lot across from McDonald’s). There, Colorado native and Tacos Vicente partner David Hitz was serving up the truck’s specialty—al pastor tacos. They’re the shawarma of Mexico—and in fact are evolved from that savory Lebanese dish introduced by immigrants who arrived after the end of World War I.

Plate of two tacos—mahimahi on the left, al pastor on the right.

The secret weapon is partner Alex Diaz, who comes from a family of cooks in Cuernavaca. He and Ryan Hitz (David’s brother) entered a BYU business plan competition last December. Just like Paul Zarate of Zaratez Mexicatessen, Diaz couldn’t find good Mexican food, and he learned that other people were hungry for it. So the subject of the business plan was a Mexican food truck. The pair took second place and $5,000, and used the prize money to ship an actual truck over from the mainland and make their school project a reality.

And the al pastor tacos? They’re all that. Pieces of pork are rubbed in a gritty chile mix ancho, guajllo and pasilla, and packed together to form a sort of giant meat bulb on a vertical skewer. Above the meat is a pineapple, and as the rotisserie turns, the fruit juice flows over the meat, flavoring and tenderizing it. The fish tacos are good too, but it’s hard not to just eat a passel of al pastor.

At the moment Tacos Vicente has one scheduled night—Tuesdays 5 to 8 p.m. in Laie (near Temple View Apartments on Kamehameha Highway). They appear intermittently at the Haleiwa Food Court, and take part in Eat the Street, held the last Friday of the month in Kakaako. Your best bet is to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.