From working on a marijuana farm in California with a dream to zigzagging the border in a van from San Diego to the Gulf of Mexico, Miguel Cobos’ life centered around a passion for making tacos like the ones he grew up with.
“Everything we are doing is not new, but it is simply the best representation of what the culture that we were surrounded by, grew up in, contributed to, is,” Miguel said. “It is a homage to the border culture and we do it through our food.”
Located in Hyde Park by way of Duval Street, Vaquero Taquero is owned and operated by two brothers from South Texas, Miguel and Dani Cobos. They started Vaquero Taquero in 2016 as a modified paleta push cart outside of the Mexic-Arte Museum.
Woody Brown is a resident of Hyde Park and one of Vaquero Taquero’s oldest regulars. Brown, who lived abroad for six years, said he had struggled to find authenticity behind the taco selection in Austin until he discovered Vaquero Taquero.
“There are many tacos in Austin, but there is only one place I think has the passion to make tacos worth your attention,” Brown said. “Easily every taco is better than I’ve had in Korea, but (Dani and Miguel) wanted to simply make the best tacos I have experienced. The breakfast tacos are the only in town that haunt my dreams.”
At Vaquero Taquero, you won’t find nontraditional tacos like migas. Miguel and Dani Cobos prepare homemade tortillas on a tortillero, al pastor on a trombo and carne asada fresh off their grill. Miguel Cobos said too many people in Austin capitalize off a culture that is not theirs, so the entire point of their taco project was not only to defend their culture — but to also make good tacos.
Before making the step towards buying a food truck, Miguel and Dani decided to expand their taco supply from not only breakfast tacos but tacos al pastor — pork that is flame-seared on a vertical trombo. They brought a trombo over from Mexico and decided to test their success on the Austin based La Chachara, a marketplace on Facebook.
“We posted ourselves on La Chachara and we started to get a lot of business on the weekends just for parties in people’s backyards,” Miguel Cobos said. “Everyone wanted to have a party for their 3-year-old’s birthday and invite all of their family.”
After the two found success in their growing business model, they saved some money and got a food truck with only $9,000 to their name.
“It was very humble beginnings, my brother and I started the food truck and we didn’t have an AC or a vent and it would get up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the truck,” Miguel Cobos said. “I don’t know how we didn’t pass out or die, but we pushed through because we are hard workers that come from a migrant family.”
Miguel Cobos said the two decided to park their food truck in Hyde Park because they keep seeing new developments in the Mexican community and other hispanic neighborhoods are being pushed out of the city.
“We saw gentrification ourselves,” Miguel Cobos said. “There used to be many pulgas, which are flea markets, and we used to eat there on the weekends. They are basically non-existent now.”
Miguel Cobos said by being located in Hyde Park, they are taking a cultural stance against gentrification and the displacement of Latino communities because it is a predominantly white neighborhood.
“We chose to bring the culture that is being pushed out of the city, into the city,” Miguel Cobos said. “We try our best with the few things we have. We always say we are a small pocket operation with a very big heart.”