Hernan Rivera remembers it — like it was yesterday. “I started with a little hot dog cart on 35th and McDowell on November 27th, 1997.
Rivera had been laid off from his fire fighting gig and needed some money to make ends meet. So he opened Nogales Hotdog and when things took off…he had to expand quickly.
“It was a part-time job but we did so well. We set up 7 more stands in Phoenix,” said Rivera.
Rivera has always been a visionary. His Nogales hot dog carts and catering trucks have been around the Valley for 2 decades now. 7 years ago he created the Sushi Sonora chain of restaurants. The Mexican/Asian fusion has become a hit with sushi fans.
“I created the concept 7 years ago with a friend of mine who is a chef. People thought we were crazy. But when it took off you started seeing our same concept pop up all across town,” said River.
Now to his latest creation. La Cabeza Tacos in Glendale. The only taco shop in the Valley that focuses on cow head tacos. It’s much more delicious than it sounds and Hernan wants people to know what a Cabeza taco is really all about.
“La Cabeza means head. But that doesn’t mean when you get a taco you’re going to get the eyeball or the brain. I want to get the word out there that it’s the cheek meat. The center of the cheek meat and we steam it for 12 hours — so there’s nothing better tender shredded meat,” said Rivera.
Hernan showed me around the new restaurant — at 6841 W. Northern Avenue in Glendale. It’s tucked in right next to the popular Pull n Save with easy access from anywhere in the West Valley. But what I really came to see was just exactly how he makes his Cabeza tacos.
It all starts with his giant steam vat. “This is the steamer and it cooks for 12 hours. All the grease and lard drops to the bottom. And on top there’s nothing but meat,” says Rivera.
The result is mouthwatering — melt in your mouth taco — that is like nothing you’ve ever tasted. “It’s the center of the cheek that is nothing,” said Rivera.
But Cabeza isn’t the only thing you’ll find here. The carne asada tacos are made with sirloin steak — and the burritos at La Cabeza are huge…they will never cheat you. There’s tacos al pastor and even Quesadillas Al Pastor….everything on the menu I tried was awesome. Hernan says you only get the highest quality meats when you come to one of his restaurants.
“I learned that from my dad. He said if you want quality food but quality products. We support our local farmers and ranchers. But we buy nothing but quality. You buy quality and you sell quality — people taste it,” said Rivera.
So if you’re looking for a place to head….for some great Cabeza tacos…looking no further than La Cabeza Tacos in Glendale…you’ll be glad you tried them!