Raul Martinez Sr., Founder of Iconic King Taco Chain/Inventor of the Taco Truck, Dies

Categories: Mexi Meals

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Los Angeles is in rightful morning as Raul Martinez Sr. passed away earlier this week at 71. He was the founder of King Taco, one of the first-ever taco chains in Southern California, a place that every Angeleno has visited at some point in their life--and even a couple of us OCers (it continues to produce great food, especially their molten salsa).

But what the obits so far are giving Martinez enough credit for so far --and what makes his passing cause for a day of national mourning--is that he invented the taco truck as we now know it.

It's always dangerous to anoint someone the creator of anything, especially in the nebulous world of Mexican food, but Raul was definitely it. Before Martinez started selling tacos out of converted ice cream truck off Brooklyn Avenue (now Avenida Cesar Chavez) in East Los Angeles back in 1974, taco trucks simply didn't exist. Southern Californians, of course, have been buying Mexican food from mobile kitchens since the 1880s, and Los Angeles has dominated the food truck industry since the 1930s. But no documented lonchera exclusively sold tacos until Martinez did it (two New York housewives had a proto-taco truck in the early 1960s, but those tacos were premade and had no kitchen). Martinez went on to turn his original lonchera into a 20-restaurant empire.

All of this and more is in my Taco USA book, of course. All of the King Tacos were closed in honor of this pioneer. And what happened to that original King Taco taco truck? Lost to history--it burned in a fire. Man, they should've kept the hollowed-out chassis or something...

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69 comments
Sea Love
Sea Love

Tito's Taco's is so much better!

Jea Capile
Jea Capile

Vanessa Landivar this makes me sad. I will now eat carne asada fries with extra queso in honor of him!! :(

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

This overshadows Nelson Mandela's death ...

Mdelaluz Wall
Mdelaluz Wall

The only tacos I would eat when I was pregnant!

Paul Moreti
Paul Moreti

May he rest in peace. He's leaving behind a delicious legacy. I was just thinking of making a King taco run before I came across this.

Jim Alvarez
Jim Alvarez

Sorry to hear that, but those tacos aren't very good to what I'm used to eating in California. I have to make them like they do in El Paso. Best Mexican Good I've ever had. Always put on some pounds when we visit driving from California to Texas.

Lamano Conpelos
Lamano Conpelos

The worst mexican food ever, they only thing you can call that mexican food it's because of the names, tacos, tamales, horchata, but it is not real, it is an insult for all my relatives that took there to eat, never again and all my friends and relatives know now that it's not a good place for us to eat.

Victor Limoguy Valladares
Victor Limoguy Valladares

Wow thanks to him we all have these taco trucks/gourmet food trucks Thank you sir u will be missed

Karen Estephany
Karen Estephany

RIP mr.martinez!! Thank you for the best tacos ever!! god bless ur family.

Danny Sohn
Danny Sohn

RIP Raul Martinez.. =( Prayer goes out to him & his family.. =(

Mariah Shep
Mariah Shep

Damn man.Everyone is dying lately.R.I.P

gorditaheaven
gorditaheaven

R.I.P. How about some delicious Gorditas for your next event? Real masa used and no maseca! Traditional homestyle braises with gristle free meat. Choose from steak, pork, chicken or vegetarian fillings. 714-943-9431

Nabil Nathie
Nabil Nathie

This post isn't trying to get you to buy a taco.

Kelly Brown
Kelly Brown

That is always our first stop after getting off the plane when we visit LA.

jspreciado
jspreciado

Great Company to work for. Worked 11 years. Great Food. RIP Don Raul

Guadalupe Lechuga
Guadalupe Lechuga

Que descanse en paz. Condolences to his family and his friends.

Alice Scherzer
Alice Scherzer

Actually he started his taco truck business on the corner of 3rd & Ford

Don-Jacobs
Don-Jacobs

King Taco is the worst Mexican food I've ever eaten...........that said, RIP....Raul Martinez Sr.

leonciomrivas
leonciomrivas

@gorditaheaven

I wouldn't buy my tacos from these guys, would you?

Crown Dent Paintless Dent Repair  

 3337 S Bristol St, #73, 

Santa Ana, CA 92704

(714) 943-9431 

Are they even licensed by the OC Health Department?


leonciomrivas
leonciomrivas

@gorditaheaven Pinche muerto-de-hambre.  No tienes respeto?  I certainly wouldn't patronize you after this immoral gaffe.  I wish you the worst.


gorditaheaven
gorditaheaven

Umm who said anything about tacos? Second, this is not an official memorial site for Mr. Ramirez. And lastly, are you not bright enough to know that people change their cell numbers all the time, and that those old numbers are issued to someone else?

gorditaheaven
gorditaheaven

I certainly make more money than you doing this! Youre probably some gato working for someone else.

gorditaheaven
gorditaheaven

Ok let me rephrase that. Im earning more than that pension of yours, and working my way to comfortable status. Once again, who said anything about tacos? Gorditas exclusively buddy!

leonciomrivas
leonciomrivas

LOL.  You're a joke.  Money, money money.  Some of us have earned enough to live more than comfortably.  We realize that money is not the raison d'etre in life.  

Then again, I have to stop myself from arguing with a shameless taco vending troll.

Me lleva la........

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