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During our last trip to California’s capital city, Sacramento, we read a Facebook update with an announcement of a mini lunch round-up Downtown, including one of our favorite trucks, Wicked ‘Wich. Serving along side the ‘Wich were Volkswaffle, with its authentic Belgian waffles and El Matador, serving up a unique twist on the taco truck.

This was our chance to see for ourselves what everyone’s been raving about – El Matador, the bull fighter.

Draped in its red muleta, the El Matador truck parked bravely in center ring. Since we were only in town for the day, we decided to order about half of the menu, and we were more than pleased (and stuffed).

We couldn’t possibly have eaten all of the food that we ordered, but we were able to sample it all. We spent less than $35 for five items and two drinks – I’d call that a bargain!

El Matador, Sacramento, CA

Joseph Looza, Chef / Owner at El Matador uses only canola and extra virgin olive oil for cooking, and his meats are sourced from Harris Ranch, which produces some of the highest quality beef in the world.

Harris Ranch cattle are fed with pesticide-free corn and grass, with no proteins or other additives on sustainable ranches in Central California. Harris Ranch is a family owned business that takes pride in raising beef to be as pure and great tasting as nature intended.

Chef Joe serves both authentic Mexican fare, as well as some incredible Mexican/Asian fusion dishes from his El Matador food truck throughout the Greater Sacramento Region.

El Matador stands out from traditional taco trucks – this isn’t your typical lonchera truck, by any means. Not only does El Matador serve some of the most creative Mexican/Asian fusion dishes we’ve tasted, his “quasi secret menu” includes accommodations for a variety of dietary needs.

“We offer an amazing meatless fajita burrito with beans, rice, grilled peppers and onions, cheese, sour cream and salsa. We also have vegetarian nachos, tacos and such. The beauty of how we do things is that if a customer comes up to us with special needs; we can pretty much accommodate them as we control the ingredients being put into their meals. We do this right on the spot,” says Chef Joe.

Chef Joe makes his salsas and Asian slaw daily from scratch, and it shows. These are some very complex dishes – it’s not only about the meat. All too often do we encounter chefs who take their meat-based dishes to the highest level, but fail to deliver on the other ingredients. Chef Joe obviously makes a priority to focus on delivering the highest quality in every ingredient in his dishes.

El Matador serves tacos, quesadillas, tortas, tostadas, burritos, and nachos with beef, pork chicken or no meat, as well as a selection of Asian fusion tacos, burritos and bowls.

Spicy Asian Burrito - El Matador. Tomato tortilla, asada steak marinated in Gochujang chili paste, Asian pear, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, toasted sesame seeds and fresh chilis(Serrano), with Mexican rice, and fresh house-made Asian Slaw. The burrito is finished with a fresh made Asian BBQ sauce, Thai Peanut Sauce, Sriracha, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.

Spicy Asian Taco - El Matador. Two corn tortillas with fresh house-made Asian Slaw, three sauces topped with cilantro and toasted sesame seeds, then garnished with two pieces of citrus, lime and orange.

2 Tostadas (Matador Style) - El Matador. Crunchy corn tortilla, fresh grilled asada (beef lifter meat), fresh made beans, cheese, salad mix, cilantro, truck made salsa and sour cream, then garnished with a lime wedge.

Beef lifter meat is just above the rib eye on the cow, and is a choice cut beef particularly useful in fajitas. It’s a very tender and juicy beef that really delivers on flavor. But, what is “Matador Style,” Chef Joe?

“Matador style is a way I like to eat, instead of the normal tortilla, meat, cilantro and onion, I like to finish the taco with fresh pico de gallo and a sour cream drizzle for a real fresh flavor!”

The El Rancho Quesadilla - El Matador. Roasted pork, braised chicken in medium spicy broth, carne asada, a mixture of jack and cheddar cheeses, in a flour tortilla. The quesadilla is finished with fresh made guacamole and pico de gallo.

Chicken Tacos - El Matador. Seared chicken (thighs for tenderness and flavor) spiced with guajillo chili, ancho chili, chile de arbol, toasted cumin, garlic salt, sugar and salt, with two grilled corn tortillas. The tortillas are grilled with a spritz of oil before adding the meat. Then cilantro, onion and fresh truck-made salsa are added for the finish. Red salsa is used with steak and chicken tacos and fresh, green tomatillo salsa is used with pork tacos.

When it’s all said and done, this was a spectacular bounty of traditional Mexican food and inspirational Asian fusion done perfectly and creatively. Chef Joe’s team delivered spot-on, without a doubt, and we know we’ll visit this mobile kitchen again. Joe’s passion shows in every dish – it’s consistent and it’s deliberate. Each dish that came through the pick-up window shined with Joe’s passion, talent and pride. There is no question that the El Matador Mobile Mex truck is a rising star that deserves its weight in accolades.

Service was outstanding and fast, and the presentation of the food was impeccable. I think the quesadilla could have used a little more cheese to offset the substantial portion of meat, but all of the dishes were outstanding.

Follow El Matador on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/elmatadormobilemex and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/MatadorMex

Service: 4.5
Menu Selection: 4
Quality: 4.5
Creativity: 4.5
Price: 5

Overall Impression: 4.5 Plates!

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About the Author

Chris Ford is the founder of Stitches 'n Dishes and editor in chief with a passion for food, photography and travel. Chris is a Media Correspondent for the Food Network TV show, Eat St, a syndicated blogger, seasoned event organizer and promoter, a food critic, a marketing consultant and Social Media Marketing expert. Chris is also a fashion and entertainment photographer. When he's not dining on the sidewalk, he's snapping photos on the catwalk.

  • Gabe

    GREAT REVIEW! The photos are FANTASTIC and mouth watering, but the way you wrote it up makes me hungry reading it! I really want that Asian burrito. It looks like you really put them to a test. Did you place that huge order in the middle of lunch service? I wonder if they thought, OMG customer from hell wants everything on the menu! LOL

    • http://www.stitchesndishes.com StitchesnDishes

      Thanks for the compliments, Gabe! They took it all in stride, believe it or not! The service was excellent. We only waited for about 10 minutes. I took pictures of the truck and crowd while I waited, and made some good use of my time.

  • Paula Guido-Lee

    It’s obvious you liked this truck’s food. And more importantly you made me like it too! I’ve been following them on line and tomorrow I am going to see if I can chase down a burrito of my own. You’re getting better at shooting the real food in real poses and capturing the essence of the truck. Kudoz for that!

    • http://www.stitchesndishes.com StitchesnDishes

      Thanks, Paula! This is one truck we’ll be looking for again. No doubt about that. Let me know how you like that burrito!

  • Bernadette

    I would bring a friend and order the tostadas and the 2 taco plate then trade one and split the beans and rice lol. Like the last person said I think it’s obvious you liked this truck a lot, and now I like it too! You talk about his passion, but your own passion for food and photography is what brings it all out. You both did a great job! I need to go check his schedule now to see if they come over to Elk Grove or I might have to make a special trip to try them out!

    • http://www.stitchesndishes.com StitchesnDishes

      Thanks very much for the compliment. :)

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