A lovable food truck for a delicious torta is opening a shop here in Jersey City. Torta Truck Torteria & Taqueria will open later this summer at 413A Central Avenue in the Highlands. a tortilla A Mexican sandwich served on a soft roll, filled with everything a chef could imagine. Traditional fillings include slow-cooked meat, cheese, and vegetables. Many Hudson County residents have come to love the torta that is served on the truck, and now they will be able to get your fix at a brick-and-mortar site. Hoboken girl I spoke with Victoria Olivos, co-owner of the Torta truck, to find out more about the business. Read on to learn more about the Torta truck, the family behind it, and what patrons can expect from the new site.
The family behind the torta truck
Mother Carmen Garcia immigrated to the United States from Mexico and always wanted to have a business of her own. In 2010, she quit her job and together with her husband, Jesús Tlapaltotoli, bought a food cart. The cart was a small stainless steel cart that they could tow to a location in Union City. They sold tortillas and the wagon became known as the wagon that always served the best breakfasts.
In 2016, Victoria Olivos used her mother and husband’s Torta truck as a case study for one of her final projects in her degree in Hospitality Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She worked with her mother to learn more about the end of the business and create a bigger vision for her. “This is where the idea for the Torta truck came from,” Victoria said. “Up until that point, the shopping cart had no name or logo.” Victoria and Carmen chose La Catrina for the logo, to honor her mother as founder. La Catrina is the female symbol of the Day of the Dead.
(Image credits: tortatruck)
In 2018, the family bought the larger truck. They would take her to special events, street fairs, all the way to the Jersey Shore, and events like weddings and proms. They will also do pop-ups at markets and fairs. At the same time, they were still running the wagon in Union City.
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During the pandemic, beeria-style tacos and tortillas were in vogue and they saw an opportunity to continue serving customers, even though special events slowed and fewer people commuted to the office after the wagon. “People were eating a beria torta or taco and posting about it on social media,” Victoria said. “So we ran with her.”
Victoria, Jesus and Carmen found the space at The Heights in November 2020. They were looking for a space in Jersey City, West New York or Union City, and they would consider any and all options. “We would walk around looking for signs in the windows of buildings, for rent or for sale, and we would run into anyone,” Victoria said.
The space in The Heights was spotted on one of these trips, but getting to the point of getting ready to open was a long journey. “The building itself wasn’t code compliant, so it needed a lot of work,” Victoria said. “There have been a lot of delays in permitting and working with the city because of Covid.”
(Image credits: tortatruck)
The space was previously the location of the Subway franchise for more than 20 years. Since the Torta Truck would prepare food on site, several additions to the space were required. “We had to add new plumbing lines and new water lines,” Victoria said. The space went from being equipped only with refrigeration and reheating equipment to a fully equipped on-site kitchen including a grill dedicated to making fresh tortillas.
The concept of the store is similar to that of a Mexico City-style takería, where customers eat their meals while standing at a bar inside the restaurant. There will be one or two tables, but the torta is meant to be eaten standing or on the go. A plaque dedicated to La Catrina, in honor of founder Carmen, hangs in the restaurant.
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As the business grew, the family took on new roles to accommodate the growth. Carmen is the chef in operation. Jesus runs the Union City buggy and does a lot of cooking. Victoria is the manager of the truck and shop. Additionally, it handles a lot of behind-the-scenes tasks such as letting and working with other vendors. Carmen’s other children, Alexander and Ashley Olivos, also take part in cooking for big events or when there’s a lot going on. In particular, Alexander helps Jesus in the Union City chariot.
The goal is to keep running the big truck and camper as well as the shop. The large truck serves apartment buildings and performs special events such as graduation parties and after-wedding parties. The Union City trolley is open from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. It stops on a bus route and serves breakfast tarts and coffee. “If for some reason the wagon didn’t open, people would complain,” said Victoria. “They love to have tortillas and coffee on the way to work.”
Victoria’s favorite aspect of work is working out for special occasions. “It’s a special day for someone, like a birthday or a graduation, and inviting you to serve food for that is great,” she said. “Seeing people gather and enjoy your food is a joy, especially because it is part of something special to them.”
About the menu
(Image credits: tortatruck)
All recipes used by the Torta Truck team come from Carmen and her mother. “It’s all from our family, from Puebla, Mexico,” Victoria says. “Everything is made with a lot of love and dedication.” For example, a berry filling takes at least five to seven hours of cooking. The store will also have homemade watercolor murals. The flavors will be tamarind, jicama, and horchata. Horchata in particular is not to be missed.
The store will offer an expanded list of truck and camper vans. In particular, the handmade tortillas. “We initially wanted to serve up the handmade tortillas in the trucks, but there was nowhere,” Victoria said. “So we’re excited to have that here.” There will be an employee dedicated to making tortillas daily. The tortilla team uses a method called nextmal to make tortillas. Nixtamal is an ancient way of preparing corn into tortillas. “Currently we use the vendor La Milpa Rosa tortillas pre-packed in the truck,” Victoria said.
Taqueria will also have special breakfast and lunch options on weekends. The brunch menu includes Fiesta Fries, which are loaded with French fries topped with chorizo, queso fresco, green sauce, sour cream, and a sunny-side up egg on top.
For those who may be new to torta, Victoria has some words of wisdom. “Torta sleepers. Everyone loves tacos but the torta is really special.” Victoria recommends the peria torta and the milanissa di polo torta. “The best way to try the flavors is to go with a friend and order two. You can have half and then try more,” she said.
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