Taquero Gerardo Avila has big plans. Having worked in some well-known restaurants in and around Oakland, Avila has cultivated and sharpened his skills in the kitchen and has decided to step out and create for himself. Tacos y Chelas has quickly become a welcomed sight at his regular pop-ups in downtown Oakland.

As the name would suggest, the business concept is straightforward. Equal parts tacos and chelas (beer). The name serves both his current business model as well as his future aspirations. Avila works to build relationships and partner with local bars and business to serve tacos at their events and venues. Meanwhile, his long-range goal is to move into a brick and mortar space and begin brewing beer to pair with his tacos.

His approach is to build more of a community between the customers and the taquero.  Growing up in East Oakland, Gerado realized that there are very few taqueros and restaurants that continue to put an emphasis on building personal connections with their customers. In response, Tacos y Chelas wants to improve that. This friendly and personable chef is constantly engaging with customers, hoping to give them the best experience possible. Wherever you see them set up, there are stools open for patrons who want to sit and chat while they enjoy their food.

“It’s just important to have that interaction with the people you are serving,” Avila explains

It has been a focal point to make connections and build relationships on both ends of his business. Not only generating real relationships with customers but with suppliers as well. Tacos y Chelas chooses to source his ingredients from local Mexican owned merchants and farms. He uses those ingredients to make his own salsas and help create his continually changing menu.

For this visit, I caught up with him at Ale Industries – a brewery located in the Fruitvale neighborhood. After I arrived, it didn’t take too long to realize that this is a family affair. On this particular Sunday, Gerado was joined by his brother Miguel helping take orders and prep, while his wife Nicoya, with the assistance of their 6-month old son, handled the cash. The vibe they created at their station was more of a family cookout rather than a taco for cash transaction.

But these weren’t any ordinary tacos you’d get in someone’s backyard. These tacos were tremendous. They were really well prepared and incredibly flavorful. I think you should try all of them, but there were two standouts for me. First, the Nopal y Calabaza which is cactus and squash. I am not a vegetarian by any means. I repeat, NOT a Vegetarian, but this taco was pretty stellar. The textures of filling as well as the balance made it stand out for me.  And secondly, I am a sucker for a good Pastor taco and Tacos Y Chelas delivered with their version. Marinated pork, salsa, pineapple BOOM!

I really enjoyed my experience there and can’t wait to check them out again, as I am sure there will be other options for me to sample as well. If you want to check out Tacos y Chelas.

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