Jesus Falcon
Food & Drink

Is This Santa Cruz’s Best-Kept Taco Secret?

First rule of Tacos El Chuy: do not talk about Tacos El Chuy

Jesus Falcon brings Tacos El Chuy to Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing every Tuesday and Saturday.

I’ve never felt more conflicted about covering a culinary business in this town than I do about Tacos El Chuy.

After eating dozens of Jesus Falcon’s tacos over many months, it still wasn’t an easy decision to write about them. Because, here’s the thing—Tacos El Chuy are the best. They’re so good that I want to keep them all to myself.

Approach his operation at a local brewery, and you’ll be confronted with a white-board menu of half a dozen options for fillings ranging from $2.50 to $3. I always order the al pastor. The marinated pork, topped with a whole pineapple, roasts nearby on a vertical spit, and as Falcon prepares the tacos he slices off bits of the caramelized meat, tosses it on a griddled tortilla and finishes it with a warm, juicy slice of pineapple, finely diced onions, cilantro and grilled onions.

It’s incredible as is, but if you’re not afraid of a little spice, the flavors are enhanced by the nearby house-made condiments. I add one or two of Falcon’s green and red salsas and a generous sprinkling of escabeche, but be careful—the slivers of orange in the pickled onion mixture are habanero pepper. Too much of a good thing can lead to an eye-watering, mouth-numbing experience.

Falcon’s tacos are the kind of good that makes you close your eyes and feel the stress of the day leave your shoulders. I eat them every week instead of going to yoga, and I swear I have reached the same meditative state.

Falcon learned how to make them in his home state of Querétaro, Mexico, where he says “Each and every person has their own recipe and way to make them.”

When he arrived in the U.S. two years ago, he tried different recipes and eventually decided to use his own. On their journey, says Falcon, he met two “angels,” Pepe Palacios and Emily Thomas, a brewer and the owner of Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, which hosts Tacos El Chuy every Tuesday and Saturday night. “They gave me the opportunity to really bring up my business,” he says.

Falcon will soon be upgrading Tacos El Chuy from a pop-up to a food truck.

Contributor at |

Lily Stoicheff is a writer living in Santa Cruz, California, where she mostly spends her time exploring food culture and telling its stories. A fermentation and craft beer enthusiast, her house is overflowing with jars of things that look gross but she swears are delicious. She is the 2017 NEXTie Honoree for Best Writer and a 2017 CNPA Award Winner.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. robyn marx

    October 11, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Well obviously the answer to title question is NO, not since GT made him a big deal in their paper.

  2. Scott Young

    October 11, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    I agree they are the best tacos anywhere

  3. lori strobel

    October 10, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    He is at East Cliff Brewery sometimes too!! super delicious!
    Super nice family!

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