Tacos are a cultural touchstone in this country. From Texas to New Mexico to Southern California — everyone loves them, everyone has their favorite styles, and everyone thinks their way is best. SoCal, especially the Los Angeles area, is also the epicenter for comedy in the U.S. right now. Stand up, improv, sitcoms, podcasts, and all things comedy related emanate from the city. So those two elements colliding makes a certain degree of sense on the new First We Feast food show Tacos Con Todo (literally, tacos with everything), hosted by Long Beach local and L.A. stand up Jesus Trejo.
Trejo’s new show is part of his ascension to the comedy big time. The show finds the comic traveling around Long Beach and Los Angeles neighborhoods with star comedians while dipping into iconic taco scenes from neighborhood to neighborhood. Tacos are eaten, comedy is parsed, and life is discussed — all over a plate after plate of amazing looking food.
We got a chance to jump on a call with Trejo while he was touring in San Antonio to talk about the new show. It was a fun conversation about growing up in Long Beach, comedy, the other famous Trejo, and, of course, tacos. We even got Trejo to pinpoint some must-hit spots in the L.A. area for any travelers or locals who read this and get hungry.
Where did the concept for Tacos Con Todo come from?
You know what, it was something created in the labs of the First We Feast company. The geniuses over there at Complex had this idea of bringing food and comedy together, and they reached out to see if I wanted to host them. Tacos Con Todo just kind of reimagines the traditional food show format. It kind of highlights L.A.’s Mexican food culture with some comedy sprinkled in there. We get to sit down with some top-notch comedians and I get to pick their brain over a nice meal. I had a lot of fun doing it. There are six episodes this season and, I think, they’re all great. Everyone from like Andy Milonakis to Gabriel Iglesias to Pauly Shore, Joey Diaz, Brendan Schaub. I mean the list goes on and on, and it was super exciting.
So, you’ve worked with Gabriel Iglesias in the past and you’re in the L.A. stand up scene. What was the process for choosing which comedians you were going to sit down with?
It was a thing where First We Feast and Complex had a list of comedians. Some of them I happened to have worked with in the past. Some of them are good friends. And then, I got to meet new people, make new friendships. So it was like a little bit of everything. I mean, what better way to make new friends or kind of strengthen an existing friendship than to talk shop and eat some tacos? I think it was just great and you know, just flattered at the opportunity to be able to host something like that.
Let’s talk about you for a little bit, man. So you grew up in Long Beach…
Long Beach, California, born and raised, man.
Long Beach has a very deep taco culture, especially when you look at the street food. What was it like for you growing up around the area food-wise?
You know, in the first episode, we get to sit down with Gabriel Iglesias — who’s also from Long Beach. What’s crazy is he and I both went to the same school — which was Wilson High School in Long Beach — and his Netflix show takes place at Wilson High School, Mr. Iglesias. I got to play a role on that and we got to connect on set. We’d talk about what it was like growing up in Long Beach. And in this first episode of Tacos Con Todo, we sit down at a taco shop that we both grew up going to.
Nice. Tell me about this taco joint.
It was kind of like this staple. It wasn’t really like the foodie spot in Long Beach, but everyone knew about this spot. It’s called El Taco Loco. There are a few of them. But the one that we both grew up going to was off Magnolia. Gabriel grew up literally across the street and I grew up down the street. We kind of went tit-for-tat on stories about this great taco spot. Like, I used to remember working with my dad growing up and we used to stop in on the way home. We would take Magnolia up to where we lived and we would pass by and see the big al pastor trompo there. The deal was I got to work with my dad all day and then on the way home we stopped at El Taco Loco and I could order as many tacos as I could possibly eat.
Right on. What was your go-to order?
To get started, six Al Pastor tacos and a Horchata, and we take it from there.
Nice. That’s a good base right there, man. So if somebody was to roll up there now, what should they order?
I would still go with the al pastor. But, man, they got so much great food there. It’s just great. But, when you pull up, you’re gonna be like, ‘Oh, this is not quite a foodie spot.’ It’s like plain smack in the middle of the ‘hood. Go there, order, and keep it moving.
Do you feel like the soul is still there in the trendier taco places in L.A. or New York, especially in comparison to the old-school places we’re talking about? Or is it impossible to take the soul out of a taco?
You know what I feel now that there’s been this kind of resurgence of taco culture if you will, there are so many varieties of tacos and trucks and I think everyone kind of takes pride in their home state or the style. Even on the show, there’s so much variety, man. Tacos Y Birria La Unica which is go-to for goat meat. It’s a tortilla that they put cheese in and then they fry it. It’s amazing and special, you know?
Then you have Mariscos Jalisco just down the road. They’re also on the show. They do this shrimp taco and they dress it with sauce and avocado slices up top … man. So within the scope of Mexican food, it’s such a wide spectrum. I think people are really able to enjoy this spectrum of Mexican food. There’s not just like one taco. People might think the taco is just the Taco Bell rendition of it. But the spectrum is wide from seafood all the way to the goat and burritos and so much more.
We went to one of the spots called La Azteca. What they do is they put a chile relleno inside of a burrito with carne asada. It just matches and it’s great. I had never seen anything like it until we shot that episode.
Getting back into the show a little bit, Tacos Con Todo is more than just you sitting down to eat and talk about the food. You’re also talking about comedy. You’ve got some interstitial scenes where you’re running up a mountain with Brendan Schaub and talking comedy with Joey Diaz and driving around L.A. with Pauly Shore. How did the comedy aspect arise in the show?
I think every episode tackles a certain element of comedy. Brendan Schaub is a comic I respect so much. And you know, with his history with being an MMA fighter and his transition into comedy, I’m just so fascinated. So in that episode, I’m going out and trying to train with Brendan Schaub and then meeting up with uncle Joey [Diaz] and talking shop. With Gabriel, we kind of talked about our roots. I was just very lucky to sit down with all of the guests that we had to take a deep dive.
There’s a lot of funny stuff, but we dive into the real. We talk about life a lot, you know? People think that when comedians get together it’s always like laugh, laugh, laugh. You’re busting balls and having a good laugh but sometimes we talk about life, the real stuff, and I think this show has a nice mix of both. There are some funny moments. There are some little serious moments where you kind of ponder about life. It just shot so real. I’m truly stoked for it.
It sounds like the perfect conversation to have over a plate of tacos, man. So looking forward to the show, what would you say was the one iconic moment of the show for you?
I think every episode has something like that. To me, one of the ones that really stick out is Carnitas el Momo in Boyle Heights. We went down there and we saw how they make the carnitas in the copper pots. We got to sit down and talk to the dad who came from Mexico and brought this style of making carnitas with him. We met his son. We met the family who has taken the flag and is running with it to make sure that the tradition stays alive. I thought that was such a great moment, especially for me growing up working with my father. I kind of looked at that situation in a very similar way. That was a really special moment. Every episode has something like that with a lot of heart and a lot of comedy.
So I have to ask the question because your last name is Trejo. Are you going to get to talk to Trejo’s Tacos in the next season?
Oh, I hope so. Fingers crossed, fingers crossed. I’m hoping I get to sit down with Machete, you know? Danny Trejo and I don’t know if we’re related, man, but I’ll ask! Actually, I’ve met him once when I was in tenth grade. I met him at a car show and I was so excited. I go there and I say, “Hey, what’s up? My last name is Trejo!” He stopped to say hi and I was super stoked and I even pulled out my ID. I’m like look, I’m a Trejo. He’s like, “don’t tell me you’re my son.” I’m like, what? It was crazy. Man, he was so nice and I can’t wait to tell him that story if I get to sit down with him for season two and grab some tacos.
You’re a touring comic which means you spend a lot of time out on the road. How are you approaching food scenes as you travel?
I look at the local scene and I do a deep dive in to see what they have. I always kind of have my eyes and ears open to see if I see any cool taco spots. Like, this weekend I’m here in San Antonio and I’ve definitely kind of walked around town and checked out what the spots are. Get some fajitas out here and some breakfast tacos — that’s kind of what South Texas is known for. But yeah, that’s one of the great things about doing comedy, every week you’re going to be in a different town and they’re known for something and I always like to just dive in.
That’s the beauty of tacos as well. It’s a 24/7 thing. You can eat them on your way to work for breakfast or for lunch. It can be dinner. It can be two in the morning when you roll out of a club. Tacos apply to everything.
Yeah, that’s the one thing you can count on that no matter how late you get out. You’ll be driving home and they’re going to be a taco spot set up somewhere where you can order and just chill and have a good conversation on the hood of a car. Again, I think Taco Con Todo kind of captures that and makes the audience a little fly on the wall. As you know, comics are talking, talking shop, having fun, and, of course, eating tacos.
Starting February 25th, new episodes of Tacos Con Todo drop every Tuesday at 11 am EST on First We Feast’s YouTube channel.