Latinx Files: Inflation is forcing taqueros to raise prices

A taco brimming U.S. dollar bills
Let’s taco bout the cost of tacos.
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images )

Let’s taco ‘bout inflation.

(Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

I don’t need to tell you that it costs a lot of money to live in Los Angeles, or anywhere in this country for that matter. Inflation is at a 40-year high and you’re probably feeling it in your wallet.

Gas and groceries cost more than they used to, and many Southern Californians are worried about being able to pay their rent. It doesn’t help that eviction moratorium protections have expired.

Everyone is feeling the economic pinch. Your local street vendor is no exception.

As my colleague Nathan Solis reports, taqueros are being forced to make tough choices because of rising costs. Some are rationing the meat they put in each taco, while others are raising their prices altogether.


It’s not an easy choice to make, but these are hard times. It’s not just the cost of living that’s gone up. It’s also the cost of being able to make a living.

“A lot of our customers are low-income people who enjoy our food and can’t always afford to pay more than $2 for a taco,” Cesar Reyes of Avenue 26 Tacos said. “You sometimes have customers argue over prices, but we have to tell them that it’s not our fault. Prices are going up and we will continue to make our food the way customers have always liked. They don’t realize that if we don’t raise our prices now and then, well, we might not be around.”

It’s a miracle that you can still buy a full meal for under $10 from street vendors. Razor-thin margins have become more untenable with inflation. This latter point was made even more apparent in a recent Twitter thread by restaurateur and cookbook author Bricia Lopez, who broke down how it would cost you about $2.40 a taco if you made them at home.

“That’s not accounting for your time, your gas, your mortgage, your water, and the clean up that comes with it,” she tweeted. “Yet you expect street vendors to make a decent living selling $2 tacos.”

So how do we fix that? Honestly, I don’t know.

The best I can muster is to tell you to have some empathy for your local street vendors and know that they have to raise prices in order to survive.

And if you can afford it, don’t forget to tip well.

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Felicidades Checo!

Congratulations to Sergio “Checo” Pérez for his podium appearance at the British Grand Prix on Sunday! The Mexican driver impressively came from behind to finish second.


If you’re wondering why I’m writing about Formula One in this space, take it up with my old man.

My dad is obsessed with the sport. Whereas many new fans got hooked because of the popular Netflix docu-drama “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” he bought in because of Checo Pérez. You see, Checo, like my dad, is Mexican. And there are few things in this world that Fidel Mártinez Sr. loves more than watching a Mexican athlete succeed abroad.

The man is serious about his devotion too. He figured out TikTok and YouTube a while back, so much of his media consumption is devoted to highlights or analysis of the Red Bull Racing driver from Guadalajara. My mom once claimed that she caught him in the living room watching a recap of the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix — Checo Pérez’s second career win — and proudly crying to himself. He adamantly denies this happened.

Personally, I find this recent development to be great and pleasantly surprising. It’s been wonderful seeing him go from asking for work boots and coveralls for Father’s Day to now requesting Checo Perez and Red Bull Racing gear. It’s been gratifying to witness this Mexican Sisyphus enjoy the few precious moments before he has to push his rock up that hill again, using that respite to remind himself that we’re capable of achieving the unthinkable from time to time. It is Chicharito’s “imaginémonos cosas chingonas!” realized.

I also think it’s kind of funny that this working-class Mexican immigrant now has something in common with the fresas of Mexico who are into this posh sport because of its class status, the same people who would try to deny him his claim to his country of birth because he sought an American passport.

And because he’s into Formula One, that means I also follow the sport. He’s never been one to talk on the phone for longer than necessary, so it gives me a good excuse to hear him go on about tire (tyre?) strategy during our regular calls.

“Se enojaron los ingléses porque les ganó un mexicano,” he told me on Sunday. I wasn’t sure if he was referring to British fans in general or a particular group. I didn’t press him though. I didn’t want to ruin a good moment by asking for specifics.

Our newsletter family is expanding

We are really excited to welcome our new primo to the great lineup of newsletters by the L.A. Times staff: A new Spanish-language weekly newsletter called Kiosco Digital.

Many of our readers have expressed a desire for more Spanish-language stories in our coverage. We’ve heard you loud and clear. Please sign up and be on the lookout July 14 for the first installment of Kiosco Digital.

The free newsletter will land in inboxes on Thursday mornings and will be helmed by Alejandro Maciel, editor of the Los Angeles Times en Español. We plan on highlighting the amazing work by our Spanish-language journalists at The Times. The newsletter will be the easiest way to get all of their great stories in one place.

Things we read this week that we think you should read

It’s not just economics that street vendors have to worry about. In some cases, it’s also their safety. Melissa Montalvo of the Fresno Bee reports that Fresno’s City Council will spend $500,000 to provide street vendors with security cameras after the death of Lorenzo Perez, a beloved elotero who was shot and killed last year.

— You think things are bad now? Just wait until student loan payments resume. Story from Bloomberg.

In her latest column, Jean Guerrero revisits her personal feelings about the U.S. flag, and debates whether it is worth reclaiming.

— Causa, an immigrant civil rights group in Oregon, is dissolving. Among the reasons the organization gave for the move was that its staff had unionized. Story by Dianne Lugo of the Salem Statesman Journal. (h/t Gustavo Arellano)

— Mexico correspondent Leila Miller wrote about two brothers from Oaxaca aboard the trailer where dozens of migrants were found dead. Only one of the siblings survived.

We are a little over 10 years of DACA, and the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remains in peril. On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case brought by several Republican-controlled states that seek to shut the program down.