The sisters, born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico say getting featured in the New York Times is a nice surprise, but never the goal. Their mission is to make sure their heritage lives on through their food.
"Verdad? ¡Se siente como la vibra aquí!" Maritza Vazquez says in Spanish. She says you you can feel the vibe, stepping into the lunch-hour rush at their taco truck on Webberville in East Austin. It’s one of three locations in the Capitol City.
Little Mexico, Vazquez says, getting a word in between calling orders and making sure her food-line mate gets the orders right. It’s fast paced with no time to stop
The taco truck is no bigger than a small school bus, but inside 8 people, an entire kitchen, hundreds of tacos and a little Mexican music make the operation possible.
"Acá faltan una migas poblanas," Vazquez says, indicating they’re missing an order down the line to those on the grill.
Despite the hustle, Vazquez says this taqueria isn’t about tacos.
"Cuando yo como un taco siento, ‘ok estoy en casa o algo así?’ y mucha gente me ha dicho eso que sienten como que estuvieran en casa." Maritza says.
"When I eat a taco, I think ok, ‘Am I back home?’ and a lot of people have told me they feel the same thing, as if they were back home when they’re eating," Vazquez describes in Spanish.
The sisters both speak English, but say in 13 years of being in Austin, ours is the first in Spanish, a language they say helps them express themselves more authentically.
It's the use of the language along with the flavors and dishes they serve that she hopes will transport you to her homeland of Veracruz.
"Nosotros crecimos en Veracruz, México y bueno, trajimos la esencia de Veracruz acá, lo que nosotros conocemos como la comida que nuestra mamá nos cocinaba básicamente" Vázquez explains in Spanish. "We grew up in Veracruz, Mexico and we’re bringing the essence of Veracruz here, what we know as the food that our mom used to cook for us"
Martitza isn't the only boss lady around here, her sister Reyna is the other boss, jefa as you say in Spanish.
"Me gusta la adrenalina, I like the adrenaline," Reyna says as she pours oil onto the griddle to cook up some tortilla chips with eggs.
"Me gusta la plancha porque siempre estás haciendo algo entonces para mí es como relajante," Reyna describes in Spanish. "I like the grill because you’re always doing something and so for me it’s relaxing."
It’s like a way to meditate and connect to her ancestors and keep her people's story alive.
"Si nos sentimos como que en la autenticidad se está perdiendo un poco. Nosotros pues orgullosamente podemos decir que somos 100% Mexicanos y que nuestras recetas vienen de generación en generación, mi mamá aprendió de su abuelita y su abuelita de su mamá y luego así," Reyna says in Spanish. "We feel like the authenticity[of our food] is getting lost a bit but we can proudly say we are 100% Mexican, truly. and then our recipes come from generation to generation my mom learned from her grandmother and her grandmother from her mom"
Making food isn’t the only way these women show up.
"Aqui marcamos, seis huevos, here we cross out 6 eggs" Maritza says, unloading the day’s food from a truck. It’s a food distribution company she owns herself.
The common thread in all of this is strong Mexican women who aren’t shy at all.
"Nosotras estamos orgullosas de ser latinas primeramente que ser mujeres emprendedoras, we’re really proud to be Latinas first of all, to be female entrepreneurs" Maritza says.
"Abrimos en el 2008," Reyna says, remembering the Veracruz dream started in 2008 as a small juice truck.
13 years later, these sisters hold onto their mission.
"Para nosotras, Maritza y para mí, también es importante que no sólo seamos hispanos también nosotras queremos también traer más mujeres Latinas y enseñarles lo que se puede hacer. Porque a veces tenemos la mentalidad equivocada que no solamente las mujeres se quedan en la casa," Reyna says in Spanish. "For Maritza and I, it’s also really important that we’re not only Hispanic but we also want to bring Latina women forward and teach them that you can do anything. Sometimes we get the wrong mentality that women are supposed to stay at home"
Through breaking stereotypes, hard work and support from their community, these women are spreading their taco empire to the streets of Los Angeles with their new truck, Hot Tacos USA.
"Vamos a Los Ángeles a ver qué tal nos va pero es otra experiencia es otro sueño es otra aventura que queremos vivir y pues vamos a echarle las ganas y disfrutarlo!," Reyna says. "We’re headed to Los Angeles. We'll see how it goes. It's another experience, another dream and it’s another adventure that we want to live and will go out there and give it our all and enjoy it!"
The sisters say they’ve come a long way from growing up on dirt floors in Veracruz.
Their new L.A. shop opens the weekend of September 30th at 3515 Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles.