According to “The Food Truck Handbook” by David Weber, the taco truck is one of the top 10 most popular types of food trucks operating across the United States. And for good reason too… Everybody loves tacos! If you’re in the market to buy a taco truck this is your guide for finding right truck to fit your needs and getting the best price possible.
Cost to Start
Depending on your budget, the first decision that must be made is whether want a new truck or would like to refurbish a used vehicle. If you’re on a tight budget, a used vehicle is the way to go, but be aware that usually you get what you pay for and that repairs can often cost more money to fix over the longterm. Another point to remember early on is that if your vehicle is stuck in a repair shop for a week that’s one week you won’t be generating any income from it.
New Truck Investment with All Equipment through Manufacturer: $50,000 – $80,000
Pre-owned Truck with All Equipment through Manufacturer: $30,000 – $50,000
Used Truck Investment: $10,000 – $40,000
All prices above are for sale estimates and final price will depend on a variety of factors, including age of the vehicle, the equipment needed, and the custom wrap that’s selected.
If you need a complete break-down of all the costs associated with operating a food truck that’s listed for sale, click here for our spreadsheet on the topic. If you need help finding a reliable taco truck to buy, we can help source your future vehicle at discounted rates others can’t match. Complete the form below and we will help find the right vehicle based on your requirements.
Kitchen Equipment Check List
Counter-Top Gas Griddle – This is a must-have for any taco truck. The gas griddle will allow you to cook meat like chicken and Carne Asada. There are many taco stands that pretty much use a gas griddle exclusively to cook their food. One important aspect you’ll want to consider with this item is the size of the griddle and the size of your truck. If you buy a griddle that is too large in size, it could be difficult to fit inside of a vehicle. This should be one of the first pieces of equipment you make room for in the kitchen layout.
Prep Table / Condiment Station – When making Mexican food you need space to assemble all those tacos and burritos. A prep table provides a cleanly space to accomplish this. Preferably, you’ll want a table large enough to allow two employees to comfortably work here during peak hours like a lunch or dinner rush.
To ensure you’re able to get the maximum meals-per hour served, request a prep table combined with a condiment station that will hold lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and other frequently used items. Quick access to these condiments will make for happier customers and increased profits thanks to more efficient throughput.
Deep Fryer: This is needed if you decide to cook fresh tortilla chips on site. Again, make sure you measure the deep fryer before making a purchase to ensure it’s going to fit. A two-basket fryer should be sufficient in most situations. You will also want to invest in some heavy-duty fryer covers to make sure the oil doesn’t slosh around while enroute to an the next event.
Warming Oven: This is critical for keeping taco shells, tortillas and chips warm. This piece of equipment will also allow your staff to prepare for anticipated rushes in advance. Tortillas take time to cook in the deep fryer so this item is highly recommended and won’t take up much space on the vehicle.
Refrigerator: You will need a fridge to keep drinks, salsa, lettuce and other perishable products cool while on the truck.
Three-Compartment Sink: This is a health requirement just about everywhere in the United States. You’ll need one of these to operate legally and enable employees to wash their hands.
One of the advantages of operating a Mexican truck that the style of food is already familiar among people across the United States and much of the world. You won’t have an issue with people “getting” the type of food you’re serving no matter where you live. On the flip side, as many businesses have already proven there’s still plenty of room for creativity within this model. You are not restricted to the ground-beef hard shell taco model like Taco Bell.
You could specialize in selling fish tacos, assemble local favorites like the California Burrito, or go au-natural like Haggo’s Organic Tacos. The possibilities truly are endless.
As far as income generating opportunities they are mostly the same as any other mobile food business. Catering events, weddings, or corporate agreements will deliver the best “guaranteed” income opportunities. You can also roam the streets for locations with high foot traffic and apply for food truck parks in the area.
If you’re opening a taco truck in a major market, no doubt there are similar trucks already operating successfully in the city. As a result, one of the challenges is simply differentiating your food from everyone elses. How do you accomplish this? It starts by doing some basic market research and figuring out what the competitive landscape looks like in your area. You can accomplish this in a few ways:
- Conduct some Google searches of Mexican trucks in the town you will operate. List the style of food they serve on a notepad.
- Attend a local food truck event. Eat the food and take notes of the most popular vendors (what they serve, what they look like, how they treat customers) at the event. You will learn more in an afternoon of observation than reading a couple books on the topic.
- Finally, speak with local vendors and ask them if they know of any popular taco trucks in the area.
After doing your initial market research, you will be able to identify gaps in the existing market.
Advice from Operators
Don’t discount the importance of having a story. For us our story was that we developed these recipes and we developed this bond that my brother and uncle and I have through family gatherings. We really came up together and did this as a family and that was really our story. – Michael Swaleh of Tikka Tikka Taco, an entreprenuer that was a runner-up on the Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network.