On the latest episode of Cooking in America, chef and host Sheldon Simeon checks out one of Houston’s most beloved taco trucks. As he notes in the opening scenes of the video, Simeon’s parents came to the U.S. from the Philippines in search of a better life, and the same holds true for countless families in America — including the people behind Taquería Gómez.
The family-run operation blends the flavors of Guatemala — where patriarch Piro Garcia hails from — and Mexico, where his wife Rosie was born. And the truck slings much more than just tacos: There’s also tostadas, tortas, burritos, and the truck’s signature gorditas, for which handmade masa discs are tossed in the deep fryer and then crisped up on the flattop before being topped with sizzling melted cheese, meat, shredded lettuce, avocado, tomato, grilled onions, and cilantro.
But after working in the U.S. restaurant industry for more than two decades, Piro was recently detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and deported back to Guatemala, leaving his family to continue his legacy. The family notes that since Texas’s SB4 law — which has colloquially become known as the “show me your papers” law — went into effect, business at the truck has declined; it seems many people, out of fear, would rather just stay at home.
But despite Piro’s deportation, the rest of the family never stopped working and continued to open for business every day. As mom Rosie says, “We are not rapists, as the President says. We are not thieves. We simply work.”