It is considered one of the most signature dishes “Made in San Jose”. The world-famous orange sauce sold at La Victoria Taqueria is legendary. The creamy seasoning that customers don’t seem to get enough of continues to grow in popularity year after year. It was created just a few months after the first location in La Victoria opened its first location in 1998 on San Carlos Avenue near the state of San Jose. Now, four more San Jose locations sell orange sauce, as well as one location in Hayward. Customers love to paint tacos, burritos, and quesadillas in it, or buy their own bottles to use in whatever they want.
La Victoria Taquieria’s flagship location on San Carlos Avenue. | Image credit: Google Maps
The sauce is made using a secret family recipe so special that only three members of the Barrita family, who owns the tequieria chain, know how to make it. The secrecy is taking an extra step after the three makers of orange sauce, Patriarch Marcelino and his two sons, Nick and Marco, reveal some intriguing tidbits about coveted creativity in a new interview this week with Mercury News. The trio says they make 750 gallons of orange sauce each week “on an underground site.”
To ensure that secret ingredients do not leak, they say there is no handwritten recipe for the sauce, and the information is only stored in their heads. The only thing Marcelino will reveal to Mercury News about the recipe is that it is “made with dried chilies, garlic, and white onions.” Specifically, chiles de arbol are used, and it is widely known that tomatoes are also a major ingredient in orange sauce.
Image source: La Victoria Taqueria
One of the reasons the sauce is so popular is because it is vegetarian. Due to its creamy texture, many people have challenged La Victoria’s claim, but they say the secret recipe is 100% vegan friendly. “There have been many rumors over the years about certain ingredients, but none of them are true. A few years ago, a rumor popped up on the internet and everyone kept asking us if we put chorizo lard in the sauce,” Nick Baretta told Mercury News.
Controversially, the San Francisco-based taco chain has its own version of the La Victoria-inspired orange sauce, and they posted a recipe for it in their cookbook—the fat, they guess, comes from blended and whipped vegetable oil.
As for the sauce-making expansion, Marcelino says they have turned down several offers to franchise the orange sauce but say they want to keep it as a family-run operation. However, it appears that they can sell the sauce outside of La Victoria locations. When asked why the sauce isn’t available in grocery stores, the response to Mercury News was, “Because we don’t have mixers big enough yet.” The keyword is “after”.