The orange sauce at La Victoria Taqueria is a Bay Area obsession

There is something delicious brewing in South Bay. Sold by the bottle for $6, this creamy, spicy condiment infused with a blend of secret ingredients and plenty of garlic flavor has a cult following after dedicated fans have said it has “healing powers.”

La Victoria Taqueria’s “orange sauce” was created by owner Marcelino Barrita in the late 1990s as a simple addition that he sprinkled as a finishing touch on tacos and burritos, often leaving small bottles of the sauce on tables for customers to add a little kick. for every bite.


A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria’s signature orange sauce on a quesadilla in San Jose, California on May 10, 2022.
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A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria's signature orange sauce on a Taco Super Taco in San Jose, California on May 10, 2022.
A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria’s signature orange sauce on a Taco Super Taco in San Jose, California on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmermann/Svgat

Bottles of La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce are available for sale at its San Jose, California restaurant on May 10, 2022.
Bottles of La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce are available for sale at its San Jose, California restaurant on May 10, 2022.
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Customer Shane Mario Ruggeri puts La Victoria Taqueria's signature orange sauce on his burrito at a restaurant in San Jose, California on May 10, 2022.
Customer Shane Mario Ruggeri puts La Victoria Taqueria’s signature orange sauce on his burrito at a restaurant in San Jose, California on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmermann/Svgat


La Victoria orange sauce is a customer favorite. (Douglas Zimmerman/Svgat)

But when those bottles started disappearing as quickly as they hit the tables, the Barettas realized their recipe was special. La Vic orange sauce has a nearly 25-year history as a favorite seasoning among Bay Area goers, who can buy take-home 12-ounce bottles from all six stores, from their prime location on East San Carlos Street, across from San Jose. , to one of its newest Hayward restaurants on Mission Boulevard.

One customer who recently posted to the Bay Area Eats Facebook community wrote that the hype at La Victoria is real and even joked that orange sauce might find its way over ice cream.

One customer who recently posted to the Bay Area Eats Facebook community wrote that the hype at La Victoria is real and even joked that orange sauce might find its way over ice cream.

Rondo Savage / Facebook

La Vic’s orange sauce is a coveted family recipe that, to this day, only three people know the formula: Marcelino Barretta, founder of the beloved La Vic restaurant and the man behind the sauce’s origin, and his two sons Nick and Marcos Barretta.

“No one touches it. So we never put an employee in charge of anything like that,” says Nick Baretta. “He’s always been one of us, especially me and my brother Marcus, because my dad is a little bit older now.”

The Baretta family is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, and Nick remembers moving to the United States when he was 7 years old. When the brothers grew up and started working at the Taqueria on East San Carlos Street, their father made sure to leave gallons of orange sauce to satisfy the custom restaurant’s followers as he made trips back to Mexico to visit friends and family. At La Vic’s, all of the chorizo ​​and al Pastor seasoning tasted in burritos, tacos, and tortillas are imported directly from Mexico.

The exterior of La Victoria Taqueria in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

The exterior of La Victoria Taqueria in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

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“Going way back when we started, my dad, he made me think it was like six buckets. So 30 gallons, and it took two weeks to get back from Mexico,” Nick says. “Today, we use 3,000 gallons — that’s how much we pumped each month.”

While the recipe and $6 price tag has never changed, the amount of sauce the Barrita family blends to keep up with demand has certainly increased over the years. So Nick and Marcus rely on two 4.5-gallon blenders to blend a mixture of onions, tomatoes, garlic, and a certain variety of dried red peppers, among other family-reserved ingredients, to create their signature sauce.

A sign tells customers they can buy La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce at her restaurant in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

A sign tells customers they can buy La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce at her restaurant in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

Douglas Zimmermann/Svgat

The Baretta family takes their orange sauce very seriously, in fact, they even have a secret location in the Bay Area dedicated specifically to making the sauce. Nick says no one goes there except for the guy in charge of mixing fresh batches that morning.

When it’s his turn, Marcos Barretta says he usually starts the process at 5 a.m., preparing all the ingredients to make the spicy condiment. He finished brewing, cooling and filling bottles at noon. From there, the sauce is distributed to all six briquetting sites.

Marcus has been in the family business since his early twenties, and says he uses the sauce in just about any dish he cooks at home.

A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria's signature orange sauce on Super Nacho Fries in San Jose, California on May 10, 2022.
A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria’s signature orange sauce on Super Nacho Fries in San Jose, California on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmermann/Svgat

A customer picks up orange and green La Victoria Taqueria sauce from a restaurant counter in San Jose, California on May 10, 2022.
A customer picks up orange and green La Victoria Taqueria sauce from a restaurant counter in San Jose, California on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmermann/Svgat


Customers enjoy La Victoria’s orange sauce. (Douglas Zimmerman/Svgat)

“I enjoy it in every way. I made deviled eggs with that sauce and it tastes really good. I made chorizo ​​and eggs with it,” Marcos says. “But I really like it with torta. I like torta de carne asada, and then instead of mayonnaise, I put some of that in there, put it on bread and eat it like that.”


La Vic’s sells about 10,000 bottles of the versatile sauce per month in all stores, and customers have also been known to place orders via email. On the company’s website, its homepage is adorned with slogans such as “Hometown of orange sauce,” and places the sauce front and center next to popular menu items like carne asada potatoes, bean-laden tacos, and pudgy.

At this time, the Barritas family operates an online store so that customers can finally order the sauce directly. For now, if you want to sample this delicious family recipe, you’ll have to visit a taco restaurant to get the sauce.

An employee fills cans of La Victoria Taqueria's signature orange sauce in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

An employee fills cans of La Victoria Taqueria’s signature orange sauce in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

Douglas Zimmermann/Svgat

However, the lack of an online store didn’t affect sales, according to Nick, who said he’s seen customers buy 10 to 60 bottles at a time.

“You’re curious, like, where do you take all these bottles? So we had a lady coming in from Sacramento, and she would buy about 60 at a time,” he said. I’d say, ‘What does all the sauce want?’ And she says, “Oh, I have friends who give me money and I come and buy it and then I distribute it.” We even had a guy from New York who traveled all the way to California just to buy it, and their friends paid for the trip just to come get the sauce.

Despite a flurry of rumors a few years ago, Nick says customers can rest assured that La Vic’s orange sauce suits every palate, whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat eater.

An employee organizes bottles of La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce available for sale at her restaurant in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

An employee organizes bottles of La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce available for sale at her restaurant in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

Douglas Zimmermann/Svgat

“There are no preservatives. It’s vegan. There were a lot of rumors that we put chorizo ​​lard and things like that in there,” Nick says. “This is completely wrong. No, it has always been vegan. When these rumors came out, we had to flag the sauce as 100% vegan. No dairy and no mayonnaise.”

From salads and hamburgers to rice seasoning and protein dressing (some customers even bother trying it over ice cream), the texture of the orange sauce pairs well with just about any food. Nick says each bottle will easily last for about 30 to 45 days in the fridge — “if it lasts that long.”

Created by their father over two decades ago, this simple sauce is not only part of La Vic’s unique identity among Bay Area taqueria lovers but is also central to the Barrita family’s legacy, adding a small boost to the simple recipes that have kept their business afloat since 1998.

Customer Ryan Damm puts La Victoria Taqueria's signature orange sauce on his burrito at a restaurant in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

Customer Ryan Damm puts La Victoria Taqueria’s signature orange sauce on his burrito at a restaurant in San Jose, California, on May 10, 2022.

Douglas Zimmermann/Svgat

“It was fun. I mean, watching it grow to the point where it is. It was just something I didn’t expect to become so big,” Marcus says. “Just having a family business, everyone cares about the food and everything we have. We are trying to get good quality stuff. And that keeps us all together, we’re always in the same place around each other.”

La Victoria has six locations, including 140 East San Carlos St. and San Jose and 26953 Mission Blvd. , Hayward. Opening hours vary by request, visit the restaurant’s website for more information.

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