Not even the three-digit temperatures kept people from attending day No. 1 of the Taco Truck Throwdown 7 two-day event on Friday at Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno.
Attendance was 12,382.
The seventh annual event, which is presented by La Tapatia, takes up two days: Friday and Saturday. The Fresno Grizzlies played as their alter-ego Fresno Tacos against New Orleans.
Saturday is a non game-day event with a Taco Festival and Taco Eating World Championship.
This year, nine judges sampled tacos from 28 taco trucks that competed for the Judges Choice award.
The award went to El Mexicano, with second place to González Taquería, followed by third place WTF: Where’s the food. Fourth went to El Jalisciense, while La Imperial and Quesadilla Gorilla tied for fifth.
The fan’s choice winner will be crowned on Saturday.
Q97.1 D.J. Danny Salas has been a judge for the event four times – 2012, 2013, 2015 and this year.
Salas prepared for Friday’s judging “by not eating since yesterday by noon and today I just drink a bunch of water to stretch up my stomach.”
Salas said he learned from the first year he judged when he ate the entire taco.
“I learned that was a bad idea,” Salas said, adding that his rule now is “I eat at least 50 percent of the taco.”
Salas said this year he is also pacing himself eating all those tacos.
Salas said he was pleasantly surprise when had the vegan option taco during the judging.
“It tasted that good,” Salas said.
Friends and family time plus some eating competition
One of the many who attended the event was Loretta Greene, of Fresno, who came with family and friends. This is the second year Greene had attended the event.
“I came last year for the first time and it was great,” Greene said. “This year, we are gong to come back tomorrow.”
One of the first tacos Greene tried at the event was from González Taquería.
Friday’s game also featured an amateur qualifier taco-eating contest, with the top finisher advancing to Major League Taco Eating’s World Championship on Saturday.
Nine contestants had five minutes to finish 20 tacos from Ortega’s Taquería.
Zack Armas, of Clovis, took first place when he finished his tray of tacos in 1 minute, 43 seconds. Armas won a spot in the Major League Taco Eating’s World Championship on Saturday as well as $100 gift card.
Armas was followed by José Vega, of Coalinga, and Manuel Artigas, of Clovis.
The event also included live entertainment and Friday Night Fireworks display.
All kinds of options at TTT7 including vegan
For those who don’t eat meat, the Taco Truck Throwdown event made sure there were other tacos options for them.
La Jacka Mobil as well as Casa de Tamales offered vegetarian and vegan options to those in attendance.
This is the first year Casa de Tamales has participated in the Taco Throwdown, said owner Liz Sánchez.
Sánchez said tacos on Friday’s menu included citrus-marinated chicken, carnitas and a vegan option called ‘Caribbean tacos’ – collard leaf tortilla, sunflower seed nut meat, purple cabbage, pineapple salsa and a squirt of their house cashew ranch.
Sánchez said they partnered with RawFresno to provide the vegan taco option.
“We are selling a good amount of vegan tacos,” she said, adding that they were prepared to sell approximately 700 tacos throughout the night.
This was the first time Jeanette Valle, of Fresno, attended the Taco Truck Throwdown 7.
Valle, who is a vegetarian, was pleased to see a few options for her.
“Very happy to have this option,” said Valle as she was getting ready to eat the jackfruit al pastor taco she ordered from La Jacka Mobil truck.
This is the second year Miriam Martínez’s La Jacka Mobil takes part of the Taco Truck Throwdown event.
At the Taco Truck Throwdown people were able to order a variety of jackfruit tacos including chile verde and al pastor as well as meat options including carne asada, al pastor and tripa, said the 44-year-old business woman in Spanish
“We haven’t stopped since we got here,” Martínez said, adding that the jackfruit chile verde taco has been very popular, along with regular asada taco.
For Saturday, Taco Festival the stadium will open its gates at 2 p.m.
Taco Truck Throwdown 7 - Second Day
- Tickets for Saturday, July 29 are $10 apiece and can also be purchased online.
- On Saturday the stadium will open its gates at 2 p.m. for the day-long ‘Taco Festival’ which will end at midnight.
- The festival includes the World Taco Eating Championship at 6 p.m. with Joey Chestnut, Major League Eating’s #1 ranked in the world, to compete in the competition.
- Entertainment during the festival includes ‘Chingo Bling’ performing from 9 to 10 p.m.
- Live music also includes Centro de Folklor Dancers, from 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Groupo Desvelado, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Los Hooligans, from 4:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Force ‘Em, from 5:15 to 6 p.m.; Light Thieves, from 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.; The Box, from 8 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.; and The Mike Torres Band, 10 p.m. to 11:15 p.m.
- There will be Lucha Xtreme Wrestling live on the field as well taco trucks and other vendors on the field.