CHEAP EATS Jo Jo Hoot is a kind of a guru of the Bay Area taco truck scene. Fifteen years ago, the first time I wrote about him, he was taking me on a taco truck tour of East Oakland. Now he lives in San Francisco in the Mission District, and I run into his bright-eyed and brilliant wife, Ha Ha Hoot, at the grocery store.
Ha Ha and me were in a band together for 10 minutes, so we have a lot to talk about. We talk about taco trucks. Also, of course: love. I’m pretty sure she was one of my friends who shed literal tears with me over my Germany story after I came back, but it might have been some taqueria’s carne asada having gone downhill that upset her.
Either way, of this I am certain: we were standing up.
But the recurringest theme of our chance neighborly meetings, all non-sequitage aside, has been a taco truck called El Gallo Giro in their neck of the Mission that, apparently, I needed to know about. They have the best carnitas within the city limits, it happens, and how lucky are Mr. and Mrs. Hoot? It’s just a block from their house, at Treat and 23rd streets. And they both being graphically designfully inclined work at home!
There’s a playground on that corner, and on my way to see them, finally, one lunchtime last week, a soccer ball came sailing over the fence and bouncing across the street right in front of me. Immediately, six or 20 little boys with 60 or 200 little fingers were latched onto the chain linkage, pudging through it (in some cases) and looking at me imploringly.
It was interesting to find myself, for a change, on the street side of this most basic of human interactions. They didn’t even have to say, "Little help?" I was off my bike and onto the ball.
For kicks I threw it back to them, only I threw it like a girl. Meaning: it barely even made it to the opposite sidewalk, let alone the fence, but, while their various groans were still caught in their little boy throats, I hitched my skirt, stopped traffic, crossed the street, caught the fourth bounce on the top of my left foot, flicked it up to my left knee, transferred to the right, popped it high off my head and behind my back, and no-look right-heeled it back over my head, and the fence except it hit one of those damn power lines and plopped back down to the sidewalk.
They were like, "Little help?"
I just stood there. "Didn’t you see what I just did?"
"Ball," they said.
I picked it up and underhanded it over the fence to them, then, while play resumed, went around that intersection collecting my scattered sandals, shattered showmanpersonship, jewelry, bike, etc.
Jo Jo Hoot was happy to see me. We used to play in some bands together, for 15 or 20 minutes, so we have a lot to talk about too. Mostly taco trucks. Ha Ha and me and him walked back down the block to this one, El Gallo Giro, or, the round bad wine, and ordered our tacos and burritos. Which we ate in the little park there.
Where the kids were playing soccer. We sat on a small wall, side-by-side-by- side, with Jo Jo in the middle, and watched them fall down at the slightest little jostle, writhing on the ground in overdramatized and underbelievable agony, emulating their recent World Cup heroes. I didn’t see one single attempted bicycle kick.
The Gallo Giro truck, I’m just guessing, is associated with El Gallo Giro Taqueria in San Jose and various even southerner California locations such as L.A.
Their tacos are $1.25 apiece, $1.50 if you want carnitas, and let me just explain: you do. They’re the best, except for one other place in maybe South City or Daly City or Pacifica, I forget, according to Jo Jo Hoot.
Who is, as I said, the expert on the subject. He also told me where the best carne asada was, and the best al pastor, but I forgot and forgot those two already too which, don’t worry, only makes life more interesting for you and me, or at least me.
Something about an owl, or gold, or something, on 24th Street? Anyone? Little help! *
EL GALLO GIRO TACO TRUCK
Treat and 23rd St., SF