At Villa’s Tacos, food and family are the recipe to success

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villas taco stand employees
Victor Villa (left) and another employee at Villa's Tacos in Los Angeles, CA. Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. Theodore Tang/The Occidental

Villa’s Tacos, a pop-up taqueria that frequents York Boulevard, has recently gained even more popularity after winning LA Taco’s Taco Madness champion. Victor Villa, the founder and main taquero of Villa’s Tacos, said every Villa’s taco starts with their distinctive homemade blue corn tortillas and then is topped with melted cheese, mesquite grilled meat and a special family salsa recipe.

“We make them our own style,” Victor Villa said. “You won’t find them anywhere like this in Mexico and you won’t find them anywhere over here.”

Serving tacos that not only look different, but taste different, is Villa’s Tacos biggest motivator according to Victor Villa.

“There’s probably 100,000 taquerias in LA and I want to stand out amongst all of them,” Victor Villa said. “We don’t only just hand make our tortillas then put meat on it and call it a day, we go beyond. We put cheese on top of them and toppings which are a little untraditional, but that’s okay with me.”

Behind the flavor-packed tacos, Victor Villa said his team takes great pride in what they do. The environment is full of people that not only love each other, but love making these tacos and seeing people smile, Victor Villa said.

“They love hearing people say, ‘These are the best tacos I’ve ever had,’ and we get that all the time,” Victor Villa said.

Helping him along the way are family members that play an integral role in the success of Villa’s Tacos, Victor Villa said.

“My dad helps out with some of the salsa and my mom helps out with the potato and chorizo,” Victor Villa said.

One of his younger sisters, Evelyn Villa, said Victor Villa is highly motivated in everything he does.

“I remember when we were younger, he’d camp out to buy a specific pair of shoes just so he could resell it later for more,” Evelyn Villa said. “I always knew he was going to start his own business. It wasn’t a matter of how, but when he was going to do it.”

Victor Villa said his sharp business acumen started at the young age of 13, when he threw his first party.

“I got DJ C, went to Kinko’s and made 600 fliers and passed them around Eagle Rock,” Victor Villa said. “That night, it was a jam-packed house party. I charged girls $1, guys $2. I walked out that night with $500. That’s when I knew I had something going on. And that was the least I ever made throwing a party.”

After high school, Victor Villa attended California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management.

“As soon as I learned what ‘entrepreneur’ meant, I knew that was me,” Victor Villa said.

After working at other restaurants, Victor Villa said he attended a Tony Robbins business seminar with his mother, where he was convinced to take a leap of faith and become his own boss.

“It was a good job. I was making good money. It was safe and secure,” Victor Villa said. “Before, I was working half as much and making three times as much, but I’ve never been alright with just being alright.”

With his mind made up, Victor Villa said he decided to quit his job and started Villa’s Tacos on Nov. 2, 2018. At first, Villa worked long hours making tacos on a single grill until he gained more financial stability. Then, when the pandemic hit, Villa’s Tacos switched to pickup-only and started to operate from his grandmother’s backyard.

villas taco stand workers
Employees working at Villa’s Tacos in Los Angeles, CA. Saturday, Feb 12, 2022. Theodore Tang/The Occidental

Evelyn Villa said Villa’s Tacos survived and began to thrive because of Victor Villa’s belief in himself.

“The important thing was that Victor believed in Victor,” Evelyn Villa said. “It came down to him just continuously believing in himself.”

In February 2021, Victor Villa’s story and his tacos caught the attention of a film crew led by Ulysses Salcido and Shirley He. The crew was originally focused on uplifting the culinary process that goes into producing a Villa’s taco, but after learning more about Victor Villa, they decided to pivot the focus of the documentary to the story of his life and the shop’s success, according to He.

Victor Villa said he and his team look optimistically toward the future, and hope to expand across the country.

“I think Villa’s Tacos is one of those businesses that’s going to go to the moon,” Victor Villa said. “And as long as I’m in the captain’s seat, I’m going to push it to the moon.”