Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Photos and story by Veronica Perry
May 15, 2018
Alex Gallotta-Mishkin, owner and Head Chef of ‘Masa Guiseria’ food truck came from the pressures of politics to perfecting pork adobada. He is of European decent, but is close knit with the Latino culture, being from Los Angeles.
“I always felt a connection,” Gallotta-Mishkin says. “And it really went hand in hand.”
He’s also the husband to Leny Chacon. It’s her families tasty recipes that bring sabor and success to this food truck. These recipes have been passed down for generations and are infused with traditionally distinctive Mexican flavors.
The famous food truck gets its name from combining two words "taqueria" and "guisado", a dish Gallotta-Mishkin explains as braised meats and vegetables stewed down in their own salsa. This process takes time and patience, but it makes for deliciously delightful tacos.
“There are no shortcuts, just like the way my mother-in -law does it and her mother has done it,” Gallotta-Mishkin says. “They are OG tacos.”
The Sacramento Spotlight got a chance to speak with Gallotta-Mishkin about his growing business and had the privilege of trying some of the cherished recipes first hand.
“THIS IS THE PORK CHILE VERDE, ITS COMPLETE WITH DICED PORK THAT IS BRAISED IN A GREEN CHILE SAUCE, A TOMATILLO BASED SAUCE. THE TACO IN THE MIDDLE IS CHICKEN TINGA. TINGA JUST DESCRIBES THE WAY THAT IT'S COOKED, WHICH IS STEWED. IT IS COOKED DOWN IN CHIPOTLE AND TOMATO SAUCE. THE LAST TACO IS PORK ADOBADA. IT IS DICED PORK SIMMERED IN AN ADOBO SAUCE. SO ITS LIKE AL PASTOR, BUT NOT OFF THE VERTICAL BROILER. MORE LIKE STEWED AND TOPPED WITH AVOCADO SALSA AND FRESH PINEAPPLE.”
The Spotlight: How did you get started in the business?
Gallotta-Mishkin: It's a funny story, I’m not from the restaurant world at all. I've been doing this now, for just over two years and I come from politics in Los Angeles. I was working for the mayor's office and I went through a lot of schooling to do politics in ‘LA’ and I thought that was going to be my career. Then I started to get kind of burnt out. I am a believer that you can have a bunch of different careers in your life. I felt that my creative side was not getting tapped into and I was working my ass off for someone else. So I said to myself, ‘well I'm working this hard, why not for me?’ So, my wife and I were traveling on our honeymoon to Europe and then traveling to Mexico to see her family. They are all really good cooks. It was like the movie “Inception,” it starts with an idea. That’s how it was and it just grew. Then I decided to quit my job, and move to Sacramento because her family is from Sacramento.
Her family is from here we had that familiarity. Her mom is actually the one that taught me how to roll the tortillas by hand and how to cook everything. Everything we serve are her recipes. This business is an homage to my wife's culture and family.
Would you say her family inspired you?
The culture of my wife's family inspired me to create this business and I always wanted to bring something different to Sacramento. This is typical Mexican street food. Each taco features a handmade tortilla created from scratch.
If you go to Mexico City, Guadalajara or even a simple mercado you're going to see big clay pots filled with stewed meats. So these are meats that are cooked down in their own salsas. Each of the tacos has their own unique toppings that compliments the flavor.
How does your business benefit the community?
The way that we benefit the community is that we provide an education, in a sense. People are not familiar with this type of Mexican food. We use describing what a taco guisado is, as an educational opportunity.
We want to be gluten free and be friendly to everyone really. Mexican food is mostly gluten free anyways unless you do a flour tortilla.
Describe your perfect Saturday in Sacramento.
My perfect Saturday in Sacramento would be slangin' tacos at a festival, event or Cesar Chavez Park. There are so many cool, outdoor festivals in Sacramento when the weather is this beautiful. Springtime and summertime are always the busiest months so being in the park, listening to good music and servicing the community is our ideal Saturday!
‘Masa Guiseria’ may just be a food truck, but it’s understanding and collision of two cultures has created something special and delicious. It’s a prime example of Sacramentos' rich culture and culinary diversity.