Try some tripe, cow tongue or cheek meat in your next taco in Pratt

Billie Blair
Pratt Tribune
Nancy Chavez is cooking up homemade Mexican food at a fairly new food truck in Pratt, located in the parking lot east of Tractor Supply.

A taqueria is a Mexican restaurant specializing in tacos and burritos, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary. Chavez is a family name. Pratt now has a new restaurant called Taqueria Chavez. It is located at the south end of town in the parking lot of the Pratt Business Center and Self-Storage building. Some people refer to this eatery as a “taco truck.” It is a walk up trailer fully equipped to make a variety of homemade Mexican delights, some of which may be new to area customers.

Beef tongue tacos are soft and flavorful, and very popular items on the Taqueria Chavez daily menu.

Beef tripe, roasted tongue and cheek meat are just a few of the new, and interesting items offered by food truck cook Nancy Chavez, who came with four children to Pratt from Hugoton, KS when her husband, Juan, changed jobs. Nancy had a dream since her children were little to open a taco truck and serve fresh Mexican food. With the move to Pratt and her children now aged 22, 20, 16 and 8, she and her husband decided the time and place were good. Nancy’s two oldest daughters, Sarai Silva and Magali Chavez, and a friend Dulce Chavez all work together to create a new eating experience. Nancy’s mother, Sabina Alvarez, came from Hugoton for two weeks to help get the business started. Sabina has been in Pratt for the almost seven months the food truck has been in operation.

Business has been busy from the beginning. Chavez bought 200 pounds of beef for the first week. Eighty pounds were prepared for the first day and that wasn’t enough. Two trips to Wichita every week are the norm for keeping meat in supply. Homemade flour and corn tacos with no preservatives are also purchased in Wichita.

The eatery is gaining a following. The workers enjoy seeing the same customers come up to the window, knowing they must like the food to keep coming back. There are a number of guests, traveling the highway, who notice the taco truck and stop as they pass through town. One customer said he had heard about the eatery from friends in Amarillo, TX.

Local people from Pratt are enjoying the new food option in town as well.

Andy Lee, Pratt, said he has been to Taqueria Chavez twice now.

“They have a unique and interesting menu and that’s why I decided to try it,” he said. “I went the first time because it’s not like we live in a big city where food trucks are common and I wanted to experience that in a place like Pratt.” 

It was the taco lengue (beef tongue taco) that first caught Lee’s attention. Because the tongue meat was already sold out, his first taco contained arbacoa or beef cheek meat which he enjoyed. It was his second visit before he got to try the beef tongue.

“The meat is like a really good roast beef, but very tender and not as dry as roast tends to be,” he said.

Other taco items offered at the taco truck include asada (steak), pastor (pork), and tripa (tripe). A variety of tortas, or Mexican sandwiches, are created on a fluffy white bun filled with the meats used for tacos, as well as cheese, sauces and various toppings, like cilantro, avocado, salsa, lettuce, and more. Other meat dishes include quesadillas and burritos. All are made in the moment; nothing is pre-made. There are desserts and side dishes to be enjoyed, as well. There is a menu of unusual drinks, not including bottles of water and canned soda. Horchata is milky-looking, sweetened rice water and Jamaica is purple-colored water made from hibiscus flowers.

“It is hard to please our Mexican customers because they know how to cook these foods,” Chavez said. “They have expectations. Having a Hispanic woman come to the window and say how good the food is was a wonderful compliment for the crew at Taqueria Chavez.”

The story behind the taqueria is interesting, according to Chavez. Husband and wife found the location late one evening and decided to call the next day. While putting the phone number for the Pratt Business Center, owned by Kevin Hamm, into his phone, Chavez accidently dialed the number. After he ended the mistaken connection, Chavez was surprised to have Hamm call back. They all agreed to meet the next day and the deal was made for the trailer to locate in front of Hamm’s business. Utility lines are connected from the trailer to the main building. On opening day, electricity to the food truck was not working. Hamm rescued the new business with two generators.

The food truck, found in the parking lot at 1801 E. 1st St., is open every weekday until 8 p.m. It is closed on weekends.

There is much laughter and many smiles among the women in the trailer. The joy they have in cooking for their customers is surely felt by those who eat the delicious fare served fresh daily at Taqueria Chavez.