What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Behind the bike: El Taco Cartel

Posted September 21

El Taco Cartel — Tacos made with love. On three wheels. — is downtown Raleigh’s newest street food option.

It’s been a labor of love for co-owner Justin Miller, also known as CEO and co-founder of the wildly successful Raleigh WedPics startup.

“What was the biggest challenge? Ha! Seriously? LITERALLY everything, from how to build the bike to permits, etc. NOTHING was easy.”

It seems like it was well worth the effort. Tacos sold out in two hours on the first day September 1, and hungry Hopscotchers ate their way through nearly 400 tacos in 24 hours.

The most popular item? Vegan Chorizo + Potato tacos.

“I think people have a natural ‘turn your nose’ at the thought of vegan food, but this taco is fantastic! People are truly shocked when they try it, which is exciting to see,” Miller said.

“Our goal with our tacos is to continue to provide new options weekly and test classic recipes with more ‘modern’ products like the Vegan Chorizo. So far, these have been a huge hit!”

Taco lovers can thank chef and co-owner Lily Balance. She’s created all the recipes, many of which are tweaks on traditional family recipes, and whips up the creations at Five Star, the commissary base. Miller said that “we will be making an effort to constantly change offerings, seasonally and just to keep things exciting.”

Flour tortillas are the default option until the team can perfect the corn recipe to ensure the tortilla doesn’t come apart once filled. That said, corn tortillas are available on the cart.

You can find usually find El Taco Cartel on Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street around lunchtime; follow them on Twitter for the latest updates. A website is in the works, and the bike has popped up in guest appearances at Person Street Bar and Crank Arm Brewing. If you want the tacos all to yourself, book a private party.

On off days, like when Mother Nature decides to have a good cry, the bike lives at Miller’s house, although the team is working to secure a good home downtown.

So does Miller consider himself a “serial entrepreneur”? “Ehhhh no not really. I consider myself someone who is willing to take a risk to see an idea come to life. If that’s what that title means then sure.”

Even though the leaves are rapidly falling, don’t worry. Miller was emphatic.

“Cold weather should NOT mean no tacos… as long as the weather is bearable we’ll be out there slinging tacos!”

Just expect a little extra spice during the colder months. Hot tacos, now served on a bike near you.


Jen is a Sustainability Analyst for the City of Raleigh by day who writes about Raleigh life by night. This blogpost was first published on Raleigh & Company.

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