By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jun 12, 2023 at 1:01 PM

Join us for the 9th annual Milwaukee Taco Fest on the Henry Maier Festival Grounds. Get your tickets now - they are limited! 

It was 2017 when Carilyn and Luis Ortega debuted their new food truck Taqueria La Guacamaya.

Initially, their plan was just to have a little South Side food truck, which could be found regularly parked at a specific location. But, as time moved along, the food truck went from serving its fare at just one location to making appearances at food truck events, including regular lunch gatherings at the Milwaukee Courthouse to countless festivals across the city and beyond.

Business was hoppin’ for the food truck until March of 2020. When the pandemic shut them down, Taqueria La Guacamaya lost out on their usual corporate lunch gigs, as well as a significant amount of catering for weddings and events.

“At that point,” Carilyn recalls, “We decided to rethink our plans. Lots of restaurants in our neighborhood were closed. So we picked a spot on the corner near our house and decided to park there.”

Parking at the new spot on 92nd and Capitol paid them back with dividends. Business picked up quickly and they soon had a core of regulars who depended on the truck for lunches and dinners.

In 2021, after the La Guacamaya truck began to suffer from wear and tear, they decided they needed to invest in a new truck. As they did so, they also took the opportunity to rebrand their business with a name that not only spoke to the fresh, high-quality fare that they aspired to serve, but allowed them to showcase their most popular offering with the tagline “Home of the birria tacos”.

Birria tacos from Mexi-Cali Grill
Birria tacos from Mexi-Cali Grill

The new truck, dubbed Mexi-Cali Grill, launched in 2021, serving up a menu of La Guacamaya favorites, along with specialties like housemade birria tacos and seafood tacos featuring guests’ choice of fish or shrimp.  Over the past year or so, the truck has also expanded its popular birria offerings to include specials like birria quesadillas and birria ramen.

In fact, if you want to give their famous birria tacos a try, they will be serving them up (along with another option) at the 9th Annual Milwaukee Taco Fest on June 17. [Tickets are available for purchase here].

Mexi-Cali Grill's fresh shrimp tacos
Mexi-Cali Grill's fresh shrimp tacos

Here’s more of what you need to know about Mexi-Cali Grill.

Type of food: Mexi-Cali Grill specializes in fresh, scratch-made restaurant-style Mexican fare including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, nachos and Mexican street corn

Do you offer vegetarian options?
“We can make quite a few of our dishes vegetarian and gluten-free,” Carilyn notes, “Including veggie burritos, bean and corn tacos and tostadas.” 

Most popular item(s): Birria tacos and the El Jefe Burrito (fillled with steak, chorizo, grilled jalapenos, grilled onions, rice, beans, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese)

Where else can people find your truck this summer?
Mexi-Cali Grill parks regularly on the corner of 92nd and Capitol Drive, but you’ll also find their truck at events around the city, including Milwaukee Taco Fest on June 17. Get your tickets while they last!

If you could park your truck anywhere for one day where would it be?  Probably Los Angeles. Every time we’re out there, we always plan out all the food trucks we’ll visit; there are so many good ones and they all serve different things.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.