By Ashley Bunton
Miguel Espinoza’s taco truck in Yellow Springs is the hub of King’s Yard, a row of colorful enterprises making the downtown area a tourist destination. On any given weekend, the taco truck is where couples, families and neighbors go for a fresh, local meal and convene over burrito bowls on an al fresco patio arranged among some of the village’s staple boutiques and an independent grocery store.
Espinoza grew up learning culinary arts from his older sister and father. His entrepreneurial spirit has made him the chef and manager in every cuisine from New York pizza to sushi. Learning about pizza in New York at age 15, Espinoza worked his way up from a dishwasher to a manager — in every restaurant he has ever worked in — until he eventually opened his own full-service restaurant in Florida.
When Espinoza was a child, his family lived in Mexico City, Mexico, where Espinoza said his father was really into food and moved the family to New York City to learn more.
“From there, anytime I worked in a restaurant I would learn everything there was to learn about that restaurant and I then I figured out how to do everything. When there was nothing left for me to learn at that restaurant, I moved on to another restaurant to learn something new,” said Espinoza.
Throughout his culinary career, from cocktail designer in Manhattan to French cuisine, Espinoza has shared his love for Mexican food with everyone around him. While working at a restaurant in New York he met Dawn Boyer, who had grown up in Yellow Springs. They got married, started a family and left the city.
“Raising our children in the city just wasn’t for us,” said Espinoza.
They moved to Tampa, Florida, where Espinoza worked as a sushi chef. He continued to share his Mexican food recipes, and one day his boss suggested that he should open a restaurant. That restaurant turned out to be Jalapeno Mexican Grill, but the overhead costs were high. When Dawn was hired as director of development at Yellow Springs schools in 2016, Espinoza said his wife was happy to return home to Ohio to raise their family.
Once here and settling into Yellow Springs, Miguel stayed at home with the children while scouting restaurant space. However, open restaurant spaces in Yellow Springs are limited, and Espinoza said a villager recommended that he apply to open a food truck.
“I miss working with plates,” said Espinoza. “But in some ways, this is better.”
Although he would eventually like to open a formal restaurant, the food truck offers him freedom and flexibility. He has been asked to bring the food truck to a wedding, and he’s pledged 50 percent of profits from food sales on Wednesdays to benefit the schools’ project-based learning initiatives, with over $1,300 raised for students so far. For the students, that’s a considerable donation that will allow them to fund field trips and projects. To Miguel, it’s all a part of running a good business.
“We want to be a family business that supports the schools — the students deserve it,” said Espinoza.
Espinoza’s menu is clean and simple. He prides himself on creating food that has quality taste. With the bulk fresh produce that he uses from Peifer Orchards, everything is made fresh when the order is placed. The carne asada, carnitas, al pastor, and chicken tinga round out the top of the menu and can be made into tacos, burritos or burrito bowls.
His Facebook site (Miguel’s Tacos), is full of five-star reviews. One person wrote, “Our first taste of Miguel’s tacos tonight … we are in LOVE. Even better than many street/truck tacos in S/Cali. Go getcha sum.”
But don’t take their word for it — come on out, stop by for a visit and a taco, and try it for yourself, said Espinoza.
at King’s Yard
228-242 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
MIGUEL’S REALLY, REALLY GOOD GUACAMOLE
1/2 white onion
1/2 bunch cilantro
2-3 jalapenos, to taste
1 large tomato
2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chop white onion, cilantro, a little bit of jalapeno, tomato. Put chopped ingredients into a dish and set aside.
Take out a large bowl. Cut the two avocados in half. Use a spoon to pry the avocado from the rind (discard the center pit) and place into bowl. Smash the avocado with a fork.
Add the chopped vegetables to the avocado. Add salt and pepper, olive oil, and a little bit of lime juice and mix.
2-3 large chicken breasts, or any leftover shredded chicken you may have on hand
Salt and pepper
Serving options: Sour cream, queso fresco and salsa
Cover the chicken breasts in water in a pan and boil until cooked thoroughly. When the chicken is cooked, shred it into a dish.
Warm the tortillas in a pan over low heat until soft.
Mix the shredded chicken with shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Put the chicken mixture inside of each warm tortilla and roll. Put the rolled taquitos into a container and allow to cool completely.
After they have cooled, they will not open when you fry them. Heat a shallow layer of vegetable oil in a pan. (These do not have to be deep fried.) Place the rolled taquitos into the hot oil, and roll to evenly cook each side. Serve with sour cream, queso fresco and homemade salsa.
1 pound (4 -5) fresh tomatoes
3-4 habaneros, to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Water, as needed
Grill tomatoes whole; set aside. Pan fry habaneros, garlic and onions together in oil. When the vegetables are cooked, remove from heat. Divide the cooked vegetables from the peppers. Place the cooked vegetables and grilled tomatoes into a blender and whirl. Add the habaneros to the blender little by little, to adjust for spiciness. Add salt and pepper to taste and just enough water to be able to blend. Blend and serve.
TOMATO CHIPOTLE SALSA
1 pound (4-5) fresh tomatoes
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
Boil the tomatoes for 10 minutes in some water. Add soft tomatoes to blender with chipotle peppers, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Blend and serve.
Editor’s note: Use caution when blending hot liquids. It’s safest to let cool somewhat before sealing the lid. Blend in small batches, if necessary.