It’s not uncommon for Jerry Hernandez to close his taqueria in southeast Bakersfield early after selling out of tacos for the night.
With help from his family, Hernandez, along with his brother Ramond Mendes, opened the taco stand, El Taco Nuestro, this summer in the parking lot next to 7-11 on S. Union Avenue.
“El taco Nuestro wouldn’t be here without my family,” said Hernandez. “I’m as strong as my team is.”
The staff at El Taco Nuestro consists of Hernandez’s two daughters as the cashiers, an uncle and cousin who help him on the line and another cousin, who makes homemade tortillas.
At El Taco Nuestro, customers will find traditional items on the menu and items that wouldn’t typically be at a traditional taqueria, such as the pork loin taco topped with a cilantro-lime slaw and grilled corn on a blue corn tortilla.
However, the most popular taco is one of the more traditional items — the al pastor taco, according to Natalie Hernandez, Jerry’s daughter. Almost every night, Jerry nearly runs out of the 20 pounds of al pastor, he said.
The meat is cooked al trompo style – a vertical rotisserie – and the tacos are topped with grilled pineapple.
“Everybody loves the touch of my dad’s pineapple,” Natalie said.
All the ingredients Jerry uses come from local farms and vendors, according to Jerry. And the tortillas are made by hand with freshly ground masa every day.
Jerry developed a passion for culinary arts when he was just 14 years old – the time he witnessed the business for the first time.
At age 14, he dropped out of school and began washing catering trucks. Over the next 20 years, Jerry worked his way up to eventually become the head chef for the set of “The Office.” He was also part of a team for sets for “Titanic,” “Parks and Recreation,” Hulu’s “Casual” and Netflix’s “Dear White People.”
When Jerry moved to Bakersfield 14 years ago, he had a dream to open his own taco stand. He began his plans for El Taco Nuestro in February and launched social media sites advertising his tacos. On the opening night in July, he sold out before closing time.
“We ask my dad, ‘What do you put in your tacos,’” said Salma Hernandez, Jerry’s daughter. “All he says is, ‘I put in love in them.’ It’s something special.”