Rocky Mountain Taco Truck getting into the breakfast game this season in Avon
When you see the Rocky Mountain Taco Truck parked outside the Vail Brewing Company in Eagle-Vail at 9 a.m., it isn’t because they’re serving breakfast.
A lot of days, they need to start that early just to get the pico de gallo ready.
“Also we have to get there at 9 some mornings to just reserve our spot,” said co-owner Dan Purtell.
But starting this season, the valley’s favorite food truck will crack into the early morning scene, as well, as they’ve been approved to start selling breakfast burritos in Avon near the town’s transportation hub.
It’s an idea Avon councilman Jake Wolf first brought up two years ago.
“Every time I walk by there on my way to the gondola I say to myself ‘I wish someone were selling breakfast burritos here,’” Wolf said. “It’s the perfect spot for a little nosh on the way to the hill.”
Over the summer, the taco truck gave birth to a taco cart, which allowed Wolf’s idea to become a reality. While the actual truck had always been too big for the location — on the south side of West Benchmark Road near the pedestrian path that leads to the Westin gondola — the smaller cart, which made its debut at the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show, will be perfect.
“We had to take out a loan to build it, but I’m glad we did,” Purtell said. “It will be great for that location in Avon between the bus dropoff and the gondola.”
‘AS GOOD AS NO SE’
The cart itself is a symbol of Rocky Mountain Taco Truck’s success. Purtell, along with co-owners Jose Reza and Chris McGinnis, poured everything they had into getting the truck moving, and have been learning the lessons that come with entrepreneurship and the restaurant business.
Purtell cashed in his IRA to scrape together the money to buy the truck; he and McGinnis loaned Reza his third in exchange for providing the recipes.
“It was a lot of 15-hour days at first,” Purtell said. “Jose and his wife’s recipes are old family recipes right from Mexico, and for the first few months he wouldn’t even let me cook, I just had to watch.”
They moved around a bit at first before settling in at the Vail Brewing Co., where you can now find the truck seven days per week serving lunch and dinner.
Rocky Mountain Taco Truck won a multitude of awards in the Vail Daily’s 2017 Best Of competition, where readers voted them to have the best Mexican food in the valley, along with the best worker’s lunch, best fast food and best burrito.
“We’ve worked really hard to earn those titles,” Purtell said. “Jose’s wife, Noemi, would not let us cut any corners on her recipes, everything had to be super authentic and completely from scratch. She wouldn’t even let us get pre-peeled garlic. She tasted it and said ‘Nope. Not as good.’”
Purtell said some of the other Mexican food options in the valley have inspired his crew, as well.
“We always just said if we could be as good as Taqueria No SE Hagan Bolas, we’d be happy,” he said. “We all love that place.”
Another part of the Rocky Mountain Taco Truck’s success has been a desire to help out other locals.
“We’re all skateboarders and snowboarders, and we know how important those sports are to the culture around here,” Purtell said.
Growing up in southern California, taco trucks and skateboarding were a way of life for Purtell and McGinnis. Now here in Eagle County, that has translated into a love of snowboarding, and the crew — along with their childhood friend Lonnie Adkins — are trying to help out up and coming snowboarders and skateboarders the best way they know how.
“We know half the battle with these kids is just keeping their stomachs full,” Purtell said. “If we can hook them up with some good meals throughout the week, we figure that’s the best way we can help.”
The Rocky Mountain Taco Truck’s skateboarding and snowboarding team provides food for their riders and posts clips of them on social media.
“It’s not much, but a good meal can go a long way for some of the starving skaters out there,” Purtell said.
That has always meant lunches and dinners, but this year, “We can’t wait to hook our first team riders up with breakfast burritos on their way up to Beaver Creek this year,” Purtell said.