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Artesia’s Food Truck Culture: Las Lupitas serving up authentic Mexican

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(Brienne Green - Daily Press)
(Brienne Green – Daily Press)

Before the sun has risen on weekday mornings, Lupita Chavarria and her mother, Arselia, are already hard at work.

The makings of Las Lupitas Lonchera’s vast menu must be hot, ready and waiting for the food truck’s 5 a.m. opening, as from that point until its closing after lunch, the stream of hungry customers is virtually nonstop.

Meeting those customers at the window with a grin is Lupita’s father, Angel, who offers an enthusiastic greeting before relaying the order to Arselia and Lupita. No sooner do they receive it than the meat of choice is on the grill and the tortilla or torta bun is waiting. During Las Lupitas’ “slow time” between 10 and 10:30 a.m., which still consisted of several customers, the average wait time was less than three minutes.

Inside the close confines of the truck, Lupita and her mother have food prep down to something more closely resembling a choreographed dance.

Arselia spreads a layer of refried beans onto a tortilla and turns to the grill as Lupita spins in behind to sprinkle cheese. As Arselia adds the main filling to the burrito, Lupita spoons green chile down the middle, wraps it quickly in foil, and hands the order off to Angel, who delivers it and a choice of red or green salsa – or better yet, both – to the customer.

Chile relleno burrito. (Brienne Green - Daily Press)
Chile relleno burrito. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

The efficiency is impressive, and it’s obvious the staff – which also includes younger sister Britney – is family.

“Everybody has their own thing,” Lupita says. “We know what to do, and we also help each other out.”

That efficiency is also a necessity, as Las Lupitas frequently receives large orders from workers preparing for the day or coming into town to retrieve lunch for several others.

“We have a lot of oilfield workers, a lot of construction workers,” says Lupita. “They call in, and we get everything ready for them as fast as we can. We’re pretty busy every day. Even though the work is slow, we’re still pretty busy.”

Las Lupitas’ menu offers extensive options, most of which can be served up as either burritos, quesadillas, tacos, tostadas, tortas, flautas or plates, with beans, rice, and the trimmings on the side.

Tortas meal. (Brienne Green - Daily Press)
Tortas meal. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

The fare is authentic Mexican, with fillings ranging from asado, parrillada and deshebrada to birria, barbacoa and chicharron. Lupita says the truck’s most popular items include the tampiquena burrito with steak, green chile and cheese, the tripitas, and the steak supreme.

“Everybody loves those,” she says. “We also do tortas, which are sandwiches. And some people just love the hamburger meat, potato and green chile burritos. Tacos and tortas are big sellers for lunch, and in the morning, it’s burritos.”

Located on the corner of First Street and Cleveland Avenue, Las Lupitas could be missed by travelers zipping past on U.S. 285, but the food truck was spotted by one visitor from Laurel, Md., who took to Yelp! to pen a review which states, “If you’re wondering what breakfast burritos taste like in heaven, stop by this truck!”

The business has been in operation since June 2013 and has grown steadily in popularity since.

“We started with nobody knowing we were here, but it’s gotten big,” Lupita says. “We’ve just had a lot of people who told their sister who went and told her friends, things like that.”

Las Lupitas was born of Arselia’s love of cooking, and Lupita says the family has obtained a larger truck they plan on moving the business into next year.

“My mom worked for 10 years at a restaurant, and she just loved cooking a lot,” says Lupita. “She wanted to do something she liked to do, so we decided to open a food truck.

“You spend less time in here than you spend at a restaurant. You have to be there day and night, and here, it’s easier for us. And then next year, we’re going bigger.”

Las Lupitas is open weekdays from 5 a.m. to 1 or 1:30 p.m., depending on the lunchtime rush, and can be contacted at 703-0162.

“We just invite people to try it,” says Lupita. “I think we have something everyone will like.”

Brienne Green
Daily Press Editor

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