BY VIRGINIA STILL
Primo’s Tacos, BBQ and Grill has been rolling around Riverbank and the surrounding area, bringing more than just good food to the community. With parks closed, events canceled, and gatherings of any kind not allowed, food trucks have been trying to figure out how to keep business thriving and Primo’s is no different. During these times as some people are unemployed Primo’s is serving those in need.
Owner and griller Adrian Pineda has quite the menu with whole racks of pork ribs, whole chickens and a variety of tacos like asada, al pastor, grilled chicken, birria, along with burritos and quesadillas with all the fixings. Customers have been calling him Primo since he started grilling a few years ago in Stockton and the name stuck. As he was getting his truck and trailer together he figured that would be the perfect name for his food truck.
With spending time as a waiter in a restaurant for a few years and five years at a meat warehouse, grilling was something that Pineda said he felt destined to do. Making deliveries for the meat warehouse to places like Salinas, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Santa Rosa he made friends and learned some great recipes and dishes. He explained that his food is a fusion of Mexican food and California BBQ.
“I always liked to grill,” said Pineda. “Once we got the trailer we figured we would offer tacos and other stuff. We are trying to accomplish a fusion between Mexican food and California backyard food like carne asada on the grill with your family or at the lake, the park or the river with your uncles.”
Although he grew up in the Bay Area, Pineda spent his senior year at Oakdale High School so he is very familiar with this area and currently calls Oakdale home. After a scary incident in Stockton where his wife had a gun pointed to her chest and was robbed, they are now staying away from that area. He is keeping the business operating in Riverbank, Oakdale, Escalon, Sonora, Modesto, Manteca and Turlock, staying plenty busy these days.
Pineda uses mesquite and almond wood to grill up the meats and the only thing cooked on the griddle is the tortillas. The birria tacos are a guest favorite that are Guadalajara and Jalisco style red with cheese in them. Unlike other taco trucks, they serve the taco with just the tortilla and meat. The customers can add any of the other toppings like onion, cilantro, sauces, and salsa as they like. The asada nachos are a hit as well as the ribs and chicken. As a recent customer walked away, they were telling Pineda – or ‘Primo’ as customers call him – that his ribs were tasty, and nice and tender.
“They are the bomb,” he added about the birria tacos.
After seeing a recent post on Facebook from a woman in Oakdale that received a knock on her door from a homeless person asking her to cook some raw food they had for them, Primo got the idea to cook up some chicken for the homeless at the end of the day. This has opened him up to those that are not only homeless but in need as unemployment has been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic. He now shares food with those in need at the park next to the Scout Hall in Riverbank and the park behind the library in Oakdale.
“We give the homeless food and people that are unemployed,” stated Pineda. “They don’t have a job right now due to COVID-19; sometimes everybody can fall behind. I have been there before. Either you pay the bills, insurance, car payments, rent or mortgage then you don’t have enough for food. So it is not just for homeless. If they really need the food come by and get the food.”
Some have said we are at war with an invisible enemy and Pineda feels that helping others is way to fight against the virus and the effects. In school he was taught to love the flag, respect the flag and be able to die for the flag and that is what he believes.
They have taken all safety precautions on the food truck with masks, gloves, and a hand washing station. Pineda and staff continuously clean the faucet, tables, and the toppings station.
The proud patriot has a positive attitude in a not so positive situation and reminds everyone to, “kiss your kids, hug them and tell them you love them and enjoy life.”
For more information visit Primo’s at www.primos.us, or on Instagram or Facebook or call 209-312-5631.