El Viejon Taqueria & Mariscos, Vancouver’s newest food truck, opened last week, serving authentic carne asada, al pastor, birria and mahi-mahi fish tacos atop fresh tortillas that are made to order — a critical part of Chef Eldy Prado’s Jalisco-style food.
Located at 705 S.E. Park Crest Ave., El Viejon sits in the parking lot of Vice Beer, where a Mexican lager pairs nicely with the tacos, according to Prado.
Prado, 40, has spent 22 years in the restaurant industry, most formerly as the head chef at The Hammond Kitchen and Craft Bar in Camas. At the former restaurants where he worked, he’d earned the nickname “el viejon,” which translates to “the old man,” from the older workers whom he managed — a sign of respect.
“I earned that respect from the older guys,” Prado said.
His nickname inspired the name of the food truck. The truck has been his dream, one that he hopes to turn into a brick-and-mortar restaurant in a few years.
Prado was born in Nayarit, Mexico, near Jalisco, where seafood was paramount in his family’s recipes and the town’s culture.
El Viejon Taqueria & Mariscos
• Address: 705 S.E. Park Crest Ave.
• Hours: Monday-Thursday 4 to 9 p.m.; Friday, 2 to 9 p.m., Saturday noon to 9 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 8 p.m.
At age 14, he and his family moved to Yuma, Ariz., then Salem, Ore., where Prado attended high school. He started working at restaurants, including Red Robin and later Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery, including the former Vancouver location.
Seven years ago, Prado and his family moved to Vancouver “looking for better areas to live,” he said, but the Mexican restaurants in the area didn’t live up to his standards.
“I thought that this could be a good area for a food truck,” he said. “As a chef, you always want your own restaurant. Moneywise, you need a million to open a restaurant, and we didn’t have it. We had small savings.”
Prado said he wanted to bring the flavors of his childhood to Vancouver: fresh fish, seafood and tacos.
“That’s what I grew up with as a kid,” he said.
Prado met Vice co-founder Cameron Johnson three months ago, and Johnson invited him to invest in Vice. Prado decided to join and also open the food truck in the parking lot.