Tortas Azteca extra busy with Richmond Refinery Modernization

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Food vendors needed for Chevron Richmond Refinery Modernization Project
Tortas Azteca is a popular Richmond food vendor that has long served workers at the Chevron Richmond Refinery.

A lot of Richmond residents drive up and down the Richmond Parkway searching for the Tortas Azteca food truck, which despite its existence in the city for 14 years isn’t always easy to find.

There’s a recent reason for this: For more than a year, the family-run truck has been spending much of its time within the Chevron Richmond Refinery in order to serve hundreds of workers tasked with carrying out the $1 billion Modernization Project.

“This is our second year going now [on the Modernization Project],” said Roberto Lopez, who runs the business with his mother, founder Yolanda Lopez, and her sister Margo.

Roberto says the truck is one of several local businesses providing a variety of options for Modernization Project workers so that they don’t have to go far for food during work breaks.

Although it currently holds daily hours at the Refinery, Tortas Azteca continues to offer hours at various city locations in order to serve the general public.

This morning, the Richmond Standard caught up with the food truck as it parked momentarily at Hensley Street near Castro Street. Yolanda Lopez had just completed her famous batch of homemade chips.

To clear any mystery, here’s the truck’s current daily schedule: it starts off at 6 a.m. by parking in the area of Parr Boulevard, near the West County landfill, Roberto Lopez said. The truck then heads into the Richmond Refinery about 9:30 a.m., remaining there for about a half hour or more before heading back out to the Hensley Street spot. After about 30 to 40 minutes at Hensley, the truck will head back into the Refinery’s gates to serve lunch to workers. If the truck hasn’t sold out of food by noon or 12:30 p.m., it will head back out to Hensley Street, Lopez said.

Yolanda Lopez, owner of Tortas Azteca, serves customers Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

The truck’s popularity reflects the passion of Yolanda Lopez, who grew up in Mexico where she sold bean tostadas in her neighborhood. She worked in restaurants and food trucks for over a decade before owning her own truck.

Tortas Azteca serves both traditional Mexican food and also American food. The best sellers are Yolando’s traditional recipes in such dishes as burritos, tortas cubanas and sandwich brazileno. The carnitas are made fresh daily, making the burrito option very popular.

“We basically make whatever we can; for a minute we had Hawaiian hamburgers with pineapple,” Roberto said.

The Lopez family says the best part of their job is serving the community of Richmond where they also reside.

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