A guide to Chico taco trucks: Local cuisine through student eyes


Taqueria Ramirez, photo by Noah Herbst, taken Nov. 15, 2021

Taco Trucks: havens of greasy, authentic and inexpensive Mexican food. These meals-on-wheels businesses can be found with relative ease, and Chico is no exception. For students on a budget, taco trucks can provide some of the most affordable food options. 

As a student, I’d say Chico’s numerous taco trucks have become a mainstay in my diet, and I doubt I’m the only one. Each taco truck is its own individual business, with unique recipes that differentiate one from the rest. With that in mind, here are some of my most highly recommended trucks.

Tacos El Centenario- Tacos El Centenario sets up shop in the gravel parking lot next to Red Room Tattoo on Nord. This taco truck always has several customers dining or waiting for food. One of my favorite things about this truck is just how close it is to campus, allowing students to grab a bite to eat between classes. Students should also know about the daily specials they offer, with my personal favorite being five tacos for five dollars (this special doesn’t apply to all meats).

A customer places his order at Tacos El Centenario. Photo by Noah Herbst, taken Nov. 15, 2021

The menu has all the staples a taco truck should, but offers some less popular items as well like chimichangas and enchiladas. It is also the only taco truck I’ve ever seen that sells ramen; they have birria tacos paired with ramen for sale. Tacos El Centenario is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For anyone unsure of what to try on the menu, some of my personal favorites are their fish tacos and their California burrito that is packed full of french fries.

Fiesta Taco- One of my go-to taco trucks, just west of the campus soccer field, Fiesta Taco can usually be found in Star Liquors parking lot on Nord. This truck has an extensive menu with over 10 different types of meat and vegetarian options too. Because there are usually several customers waiting for their orders, you may be waiting a little longer for your food than at most local trucks. However, the quality of the food is worth the wait. Additionally, customers in a hurry can order online to avoid the wait.

The one downside of Fiesta Taco, in my opinion, is their hours of operation. They are open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nonetheless, there’s ample time to swing by and try out their cuisine, and I would recommend their nachos, breakfast burrito, and of course, street tacos.

Mi Taquito Grill- This vibrant-looking taco truck will almost certainly catch your eye. Mi Taquito Grill sets up shop on the corner of Shasta Avenue and Esplanade. Mi Taquito has a pretty striking appearance in the largely empty gravel lot they occupy, their flags waving in the wind and lights strung across their covered seating area. This massive food truck has an equally massive menu with something for everyone.

Aside from the more typical taco truck offerings, Mi Taquito Grill also offers nacho fries which are absolutely delicious! They have one of the largest selections of burritos I’ve seen at any taco truck, ranging from $3 for your basic bean and rice burrito to $8.50 for burritos with “all the works.” While this taco truck isn’t the closest to campus, it’s one of the nicer ones I’ve had the pleasure of trying, and always has customers lined up outside.

Tacos El Pinolero- The cheerful Christmas lights hanging across the dining area were the first thing to catch my eye pulling into the gravel parking lot. However, it was the aroma of authentic Mexican food that filled my nostrils the moment I got out of the car that really got me interested in El Pinolero. The menu may be simple: burritos, tacos, tortas, quesadillas and tostadas, but really, what else does a good taco truck need? The staff greeted my group with a smile and was very polite. The service was very quick; so quick that it seemed our burritos were coming out right as we finished ordering them.

Two customers lined up outside Tacos El Pinolero. Photo by Noah Herbst, taken Nov. 15, 2021

The chicken burrito I got was fantastic. Again, it was your pretty typical burrito, but I was in for a pleasant surprise when I took my first bite and was greeted by a mouthful of warm and flavorful shredded chicken. In all my experience with taco truck chicken, it is often grilled breast or thigh meat, so it was nice being able to switch it up from the usual pollo asado. Tacos El Pinolero has two different locations: one at 275 E Park Ave. and another on the corner Esplanade and Tonea Way, just north of Sol Mexican Grill

The only complaint I had about this establishment was that I wish it was a little closer to campus, as both trucks operate on the outskirts of town. Nonetheless, the drive was worth it and if you ever find yourself on either the northern or southern edges of town, I’d recommend stopping by for a bite to eat. Tacos El Pinolero is open Monday- Saturday from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Taqueria Ramirez- Another taco truck near campus is Taqueria Ramirez, situated right next to the Nord Avenue market. Their menu isn’t huge, but they offer some of the cheapest burritos and tacos I’ve been able to find at any taco truck in town. They also offer 10 different types of meat and a few vegetarian options.

One thing customers should know is that they should make sure to have cash on hand because they are a cash-only business. Service was about average – not the quickest, but it didn’t take very long either. Ramirez also has a small covered dining area. Parking, however, is very limited, but that’s not always a problem due to its close proximity to campus. If you find yourself at Taqueria Ramirez, their deep-fried fish tacos are a must-try. For the customer looking for a heartier meal, their enormous burrito supreme should do the trick! Taqueria Ramirez is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

While this is far from a comprehensive list of every taco truck in Chico, it’s a good place to start for anyone who is a fan of cheap, authentic Mexican food or any student low on funds who wants to treat themselves to a tasty and affordable meal. Don’t let this list limit the trucks you try either! In my opinion, one of the best things about taco trucks is trying new ones and finding different things you like. Until then, this list is a good place to start. Make sure to let me know some of your favorite trucks so I can expand my guide!

Noah Herbst can be reached through email at [email protected] or @NoahHerbst13 on Twitter.