Home Culture Torta Truck in Jersey City is Getting its Own Brick + Mortar

Torta Truck in Jersey City is Getting its Own Brick + Mortar

by Stephanie Spear
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A food truck beloved for its delicious tortas is opening a shop here in Jersey City. The Torta Truck Torteria & Taqueria will open later this summer at 413A Central Avenue in The Heights. A torta is a Mexican sandwich served on a soft roll and filled with whatever the chef can imagine. Traditional fillings include slow-cooked meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Many Hudson County residents have come to love the tortas served on the truck, and now they will be able to get their fix at the brick-and-mortar location. The Hoboken Girl spoke with Victoria Olivos, the co-owner of Torta Truck, to learn more about the business. Read on to learn more about the Torta Truck, the family behind it, and what patrons can expect from the new location.

victoria olivos torta truck jersey city

The Family Behind the Torta Truck

Matriarch Carmen Garcia emigrated to the US from Mexico and always wanted to have her own business. In 2010, she left her job and along with her husband, Jesus Tlapaltotoli, bought a food cart. The cart was a small, stainless steel cart that they would tow to a location in Union City. They sold tortas and the cart became known as the cart that always had the best breakfast tortas.

In 2016, Victoria Olivos used her mother and stepfather’s torta truck as a case study for one of her final projects in her degree in hospitality management at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She worked with her mother to learn more about the back end of the business and created a bigger vision for it. “That’s where the idea for the Torta Truck came from,” Victoria said. “Up until that point, the cart didn’t have a name or a logo.” Victoria and Carmen chose La Catrina for the logo, to honor her mother as the founder. La Catrina is the female symbol of the Day of the Dead.

torta truck jersey city food truck

(Photo credits: @tortatruck)

In 2018, the family purchased the bigger truck. They would take it to special events, street fairs, down to the Jersey Shore, and events like weddings and graduation parties. They would also do pop-ups at markets and fairs. At the same time, they were still running the cart in Union City.

Read more: The Best Jersey Shore Boardwalks to Visit This Summer

During the pandemic, birria-style tacos and tortas were trending and they saw an opportunity to continue serving customers, despite the special events slowing down and few people commuting to the office past the cart. “People would eat a birria torta or taco and post about it on social media,” Victoria said. “So we ran with it.”

The Taqueria

Victoria, Jesus, and Carmen found the space in The Heights in November 2020. They were looking for a space in Jersey City, West New York, or Union City, and would consider any and all options. “We would drive around looking for signs in the windows of buildings, for rent or for sale, and reach out to anyone,” Victoria said.

The space in The Heights was spotted on one of those drives, but getting to the point of being ready to open was a long journey. “The building itself wasn’t up to code so it needed a lot of work,” Victoria said. “There were a lot of delays with permitting and working with the City because of Covid.”

 

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A post shared by Torta Truck (@tortatruck)

(Photo credits: @tortatruck)

The space had been previously the location of a Subway franchise for over 20 years. Because Torta Truck will prepare food on-site, many additions to the space were needed. “We had to add new plumbing lines, new water lines,” Victoria said. The space went from being equipped with only refrigeration and reheating equipment to now having a fully-decked out kitchen onsite including a dedicated grill for making fresh tortillas.

The shop’s concept is similar to a Mexico City-style taqueria, where customers eat their meals while standing at a bar inside the restaurant. There will be one or two tables, but the tortas are meant to be eaten standing up or on the go. A custom painting of La Catrina, in honor of founder Carmen, hangs in the restaurant.

See More: A Guide to Tacos Hoboken + Jersey City

As the business has grown, the family has taken on new roles to accommodate the growth. Carmen is the head chef of the operation. Jesus runs the Union City cart and does a lot of the cooking. Victoria is the manager of the truck and of the shop. In addition, she handles a lot of the behind the scenes tasks like permitting and working with other vendors. Carmen’s other children, Alexander and Ashley Olivos, also pitch in to cook for big events or when there is a lot going on. In particular, Alexander helps out Jesus with the Union City cart.

The goal is to continue operating the big truck and the cart in addition to the store. The big truck serves apartment buildings and does special events like graduation parties and wedding after-parties. The Union City cart is open from 5AM to 9AM. It is parked on a bus route and serves breakfast tortas and coffees. “If for some reason the cart isn’t open, people will complain,” Victoria said. “They like to grab a torta and a coffee on their way to work.”

Victoria’s favorite aspect of the business is working at private events. “It’s someone’s special day, like a birthday or graduation, and to be invited to provide the food for that is amazing,” she said. “To see people gathering and enjoying your food is heartwarming, especially because it’s as part of something that’s special for them.”

About the Menu

 

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A post shared by Torta Truck (@tortatruck)

(Photo credits: @tortatruck)

All of the recipes that the Torta Truck team uses come from Carmen and her mother. “Everything is from our family, from Puebla, Mexico,” Victoria says. “Everything is made with a lot of love and dedication.” For example, the birria filling takes at least five to seven hours of cooking. The shop will also have house-made aqua frescas. The flavors will be Tamarind, Jicama, and Horchata. The Horchata in particular is not to be missed.

The shop will offer an expanded menu from the truck and cart. In particular, handmade tortillas. “We initially wanted to offer handmade tortillas in the trucks, but there just wasn’t room,” Victoria said. “So we’re excited to have that here.” There will be a dedicated staff member to make the tortillas daily. The Torta Team uses a method called nixtamal to make the tortillas. Nixtamal is an ancient method of preparing corn to be made into the tortillas. Victoria said that, ” For now, we use vendor La Milpa Rosa prepackaged nixtamal tortillas at the truck. At the restaurant, we will us the same vendor’s nixtamal masa and hand-make them ourselves.”

The Taqueria will also have special brunch options on the weekends. The brunch menu includes Fiesta Fries, which are loaded fries topped with chorizo, queso fresco, salsa verde, sour cream, and a sunny side egg on top.

For those who may be new to tortas, Victoria has some words of wisdom. “Tortas are slept on. Everyone loves tacos but tortas are really special,” she  says. Victoria recommends the birria torta and the milanesa de pollo torta. “The best way to try out the flavors is to go with a friend and order two. You can each have half and then try more,” she said.

To stay up to date on all things Hoboken and Jersey City, follow @thehobokengirl on Instagram and TikTok.

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