Raul Martínez, Sr. did something no one had ever thought of on the night of September 16, 1974: It was the day he first opened the side-hatch window of an ice cream truck right outside a bar in East Los Angeles—except, instead of handing out frozen treats, he began serving tacos.
King Taco was born and six months later, Martínez opened the first brick-and-mortar restaurant on Cypress Avenue in Los Angeles, following 20-plus locations throughout SoCal (including shop #27 right here in Long Beach at 1841 Long Beach Blvd.)
Many have dubbed him the godfather of the taco truck, sparking a form of food service that is as synonymous with Los Angeles as the Hollywood sign itself. And King Taco, one of the most ubiquitous taco chains in the region, is now turning 45 today—and to celebrate, every single location will be offering 50 cent tacos.
Even better? There will be no limit to what you can order. Let the games begin.
“Making a taco is an art,” Martínez told the Los Angeles Times in a 1987 story on the uprising popularity of his tacos.
At the time of King Taco’s opening, al pastor was a relatively hard find in the area. Everyone, even his own family, thought he was out of his mind to serve soft corn tortilla tacos—filled with pork in all its various glories: al pastor, buche, carnitas…—to an American crowd that, at the time, believed Taco Bell to be the representation of tacos at their finest.
Much to the surprise and happiness of everyone, his critics were wrong.
Martínez passed away in 2013 at the age of 71.
King Taco is located at 1841 Long Beach Blvd.