A few cars pulled off to the side of East Baffert Drive shortly after noon last Friday, parking on the dirt roadside a few feet away from La Esquina – a new food truck with a stainless steel exterior and an orange outline.
As a large family sat at the plastic tables in front of the truck, several people walked by, took a peek at the three cardboard posters listing the menu items near the front windows, then proceeded to place their orders at a bar beside the truck.
An employee dressed in black slacks with a white button-down shirt took the customers’ orders from behind the bar while the cooking magic happened inside the food truck.
Etelberto “Beto” Vega of Rio Rico said he decided to open up his new food truck last month to accommodate customers who might be looking for safer dining options during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve always worked in the kitchen so it’s what I know,” Vega said, adding that he earned a degree from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. “It’s convenient to have a food truck right now because most of it is to-go, so (the virus) doesn’t spread that way.”
Although most of his customers have ordered meals for takeout, the La Esquina truck also offers outdoor dining with approximately four tables spaced apart from each other on the property.
Bringing his experience from other restaurants where he’s worked, Vega’s menu offers a selection of burritos, tacos, Sonoran hotdogs, quesadillas and cheeseburgers.
The most popular item on the menu so far? The “Pirata burrito,” Vega said. That contains carne asada, bacon, cheese, grilled onion, pico de gallo, avocado and cream. He added that the burritos are big enough to feed two people.
“This is what people in Nogales like to eat,” Vega said with a chuckle. “I was going to offer a different menu, but why struggle when I already know what people here like?”
Since opening up on Sept. 18, he said, he’s had a welcome reaction from the community, with people turning to La Esquina for lunch and dinner.
“I’m very grateful to the community because they’ve been supporting me,” Vega said.
La Esquina is located on 35 E. Baffert Drive, just around the corner from the intersection with Grand Avenue. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.