Clyde Dwyer ’25 (He/Him), Food Critic
Matt Krasucki ’25 (He/Him), Translator
Hidden behind Cashion’s Quik Stop gas station sits a squat, yellow truck with the modest name Taco Mobile. It’s easy to miss amidst the variety of fast food and chain restaurants that line Catawba Avenue. But the unassuming truck serves some of the best Mexican and Central American cuisine in the area, from the melty pupusas, to the juicy quesebirria, to the exceptional tacos. And in addition to the delicious food, Taco Mobile is the culmination of an inspiring journey of immigration and perseverance.
Doris Ofelia Ortiz, the owner and main chef of Taco Mobile, came to the United States from Honduras a little over two years ago. Ms. Ortiz left Honduras in pursuit of better opportunities for her and her children.
“My personal goal was to come to this country,” she explained. “Because the situation in Honduras is very difficult [with] insecurity and unemployment.”
As a single mother of three, Ms. Ortiz started the taco truck to provide for her family and to ensure her children could have bright futures.
Ms. Ortiz’s favorite item on the menu is the pollo (chicken) torta, though she also enjoys a Honduran specialty dish called a baleada. This traditional dish is simply a flour tortilla filled with refried beans, crumbly cheese and crema; although it is iconic back in Honduras, it is not too common in Cornelius. The expansive menu also offers pupusas, gorditas, burritos, and many varieties of tacos.
As its name suggests, Taco Mobile’s standout items are the tacos. Taco Mobile serves classic flavors like carne asada and pollo, while also doling out more uncommon varieties like lengua (cow’s tongue) and tripa (tripe). The beauty of the tacos lie in their simplicity; each taco is served on a homemade tortilla, with the only toppings being onion, cilantro, lime, and either a spicy green or a spicier red sauce. This minimalist backdrop serves as the perfect canvas for any of the meat options.
The best tacos are the carnitas, carne asada and lengua. The carnitas are stewed until incredibly tender and absolutely melt-in-your-mouth and made even more perfect by a generous dollop of the red sauce. Meanwhile the carne asada is thrown onto the flattop and charred to a delicious crisp, serving as the perfect contrast to the fresh cilantro and onions. My personal favorite is the lengua, which often sells out. The soft richness of the cow’s tongue offers a unique and unexpected flavor, but one that Taco Mobile does very well. The sheer variety of menu options means there is a taco for every taste bud.
Taco Mobile’s main clientele, Ms. Ortiz says, is typically fellow immigrants who work in the area.
“Usually, people visit us the most at lunchtime,” Ms. Ortiz recounts, “and they are the people who work in construction and painting.”
But around dinnertime, Ms. Ortiz notes that a variety of people roll up to the Quik Stop parking lot in pursuit of a scrumptious meal. While her taco truck sees good business these days, Ms. Ortiz’s path to where she is now was anything but simple. Like many immigrants from Central America, Ms. Ortiz’s journey to the United States was extremely difficult. Beyond severe economic insecurity, Ms. Ortiz’s home country of Honduras also has the second-highest murder rate in the entire world according to the United Nations.
“The journey was very difficult and very hard,” she explained. “So many people are left on the road dead.”
Despite the extreme hardship immigrants face both entering and living in the United States, Ms. Ortiz remains optimistic for the future. She is proud to now live in the United States but hopes that the journey for immigrants like her isn’t as difficult in the future.
“What we would like is to fight to ensure that there are no barriers,” Ms. Ortiz passionately declared, “that there are no borders that prevent us to enter and more easily achieve our goals in life.”
Diversity and multiculturalism define the United States as a nation, and food is an important way for cultures to connect. Beyond bringing superb Honduran and Mexican cuisine to Cornelius, Ms. Ortiz brings her story of triumph through perseverance. Whether through vibrant tacos or hearty tortas, refreshing aguas frescas or rich pupusas, Ms. Ortiz offers Taco Mobile customers an experience that extends beyond just a bite.
Holding back tears, she emphasized how important young people are in fighting for a better future.
“As young people, you live and have the opportunity to fight in the country that, thanks to God, is the world’s most powerful country.” Ms. Ortiz explains. “You must fight for justice, for peace, for love.”
Photos by Clyde Dwyer ‘25.
19733 Statesville Rd, Cornelius, NC