Taco chefs compete for bragging rights
The Taco Truck Throwdown is more than a minor-league promo night.
It’s one of Fresno’s most-anticipated annual events; the kind of thing where the biggest complaint might be that too many people show up. It’s an event that spawned its own brand and helped to create an identity for the Central Valley as the nation’s taco capital. For its seventh year, happening Friday and Saturday at Chukchansi Park, organizers look to build on that brand, and the experience, by moving to the weekend and expanding into a two-day celebration that includes art and music and even a taco eating contest.
Before heading out, here are seven things to know about Taco Truck Throwdown 7, from one of its organizers, Mike Osegueda.
1. You can choose your experience. Old-school throwdown fans – the ones who have gone since year one and can’t imagine eating tacos without drinking a Tecate and watching a ballgame – will want to go Friday night. “That’s the throwdown you all know and love,” Osegueda says.
Those coming from out of town, or those with children who might want a family outing, will enjoy the festival-like atmosphere on Saturday, he says. There’s no game, but there will be live performances – from Chingo Bling, plus Light Thieves, Los Hooligans, Groupo Desvelado, Force Em and The Box – and the World Taco Eating Championship.
Of note: Children under 10 are free on Saturday.
2. Joey Chestnut will have some competition. While Chestnut, aka Joey Jaws, has gotten press for his multiple wins at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, he’s not the only competitive-eating celebrity taking part in Saturday night’s contest. Matt Stonie, Major League Eating’s No. 2 competitor, will also be there. Stonie has close to 3 million subscribers on YouTube, where he breaks down (to the calories) all the crazy stuff he eats.
3. If you’re into tacos, go early. You might not get to try every truck (or even want to), but you should be able to get to a dozen or so, Osegueda says. He suggests going between 5-6:30 p.m. Friday and 2-6 p.m. on Saturday. Don’t forget to account for time to buy taco tickets. Cash and cards will not be accepted at trucks.
Another pro-tip: Go with a group. Send each person to a different truck. “Then come back and do the trade,” Osegueda says.
4. If you’re not into tacos, that’s cool, too. On Saturday, the trucks will open up their food selections, so fans can get a tamale, burrito, or even asada fries.
You will want asada fries.
5. There will be new trucks. The ideal throwdown is a combination of what Osegueda calls the legacy trucks – El Premio Mayor and Le Elegante – and newcomers like Jalapeno Face. Of the 10 new trucks competing this year, several weren’t even in operation last year. A few – Jalapeno Face, again – were inspired by the throwndown, Osegueda says.
6. Guadalajara will be competing, too. Finally. The restaurant is a long-time favorite for many Fresnans, but has never been able to make it to the throwndown, Osegueda says. That changes this year.
7. Don’t forget the Taco Truck Throwdown gear. There will be new merchandise – hats, T-shirts and jerseys. They will be available for sale, in limited quantities, both days.
Taco Truck Throwdown 7
- 5 p.m., Friday and 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday
- Chukchansi Park, 1800 Tulare Street
- $9-$44 day one with game ticket; $9 day two