The Taco Truck

How Mexican Street Food Is Transforming the American City
Author: Robert Lemon
Foreword by Jeffrey M. Pilcher
Serving up new flavors of city life
Cloth – $110
Paper – $24.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 05/27/2019
Cloth: 05/27/2019
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About the Book

Icons of Mexican cultural identity and America's melting pot ideal, taco trucks have transformed cityscapes from coast to coast. The taco truck radiates Mexican culture within non-Mexican spaces with a presence—sometimes desired, sometimes resented—that turns a public street corner into a bustling business.

Drawing on interviews with taco truck workers and his own skills as a geographer, Robert Lemon illuminates new truths about foodways, community, and the unexpected places where ethnicity, class, and culture meet. Lemon focuses on the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and Columbus, Ohio, to show how the arrival of taco trucks challenge preconceived ideas of urban planning even as cities use them to reinvent whole neighborhoods. As Lemon charts the relationships between food practices and city spaces, he uncovers the many ways residents and politicians alike contest, celebrate, and influence not only where your favorite truck parks, but what's on the menu.

About the Author

Robert Lemon is an urban and social researcher and documentary filmmaker. His films include Transfusion.


"A compelling examination . . . Lemon's work provides a much-needed scholarly overview of the proliferation of food trucks in the 21st century." --Great Plains Research


"A fantastic book. I was repeatedly surprised by the numerous ways the author credibly links the act of mobile food vending to some of North America's most poignant contemporary issues of cultural identity. The mix of interviews, participant observation, and discourse analysis is a perfect fit for exploring the themes."--Joshua Long, author of Weird City: Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas


•  John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize, American Association of Geographers, 2020

Supplemental Material

The Taco Truck

How Mexican Street Food Is Transforming the American City


Test image. More supplemental map images coming to this space soon.

Figure 1
Illustration 1: Oakland's demographics mapped by percent black and Latino population. Source: US Census 2010.

Figure 4
Illustration 4. Where taco trucks are generally found throughout Oakland. Source: Yelp.

Figure 10
Illustration 10: Vehicular Vending (O.M.C. Chapter 8.09) and Pushcart Pilot Program (O.M.C. Chapter 5.49) Permitted Areas. Source: City of Oakland.

Figure 12
Illustration 12: Map of Off the Grid locations throughout the Bay Area. Source: Off the Grid.

Figure 13
Illustration 13: Paragary's restaurant locations. Source: Paragary Restaurant Group.

Figure 15
Illustration 15: Traditional taco truck locations (blue, black) compared to Paragary's restaurant locations (red squares). Source: Yelp and Paragary Restaurant Group.

Figure 21
Illustration 21: Traditional taco truck locations. Source: Yelp and personal observations.

Figure 24
Illustration 24: Columbus, Ohio Context Map. Source: Google Maps.

Figure 25
Illustration 25: Taco Trucks throughout Columbus, Ohio. Source: Taco Trucks in Columbus Ohio and Google Maps.

Figure 29
Illustration 29: Taco Trucks throughout Columbus, Ohio. Source: Taco Trucks in Columbus, Ohio.

Figure 34
Illustration 34: Traditional taco trucks and trailers in Austin, Texas.

Robert Lemon is an urban and social researcher and documentary filmmaker. His films include Transfusion.