Stephanie Perez in front of El Gallo Giro food truck, which has been at 23rd and Treat streets for nearly 20 years.

If you’re like me and uneducated on rooster breeds, you may have also found yourself wondering about the El Gallo Giro taco truck at 23rd and Treat streets, across from Parque Niños Unidos. Is it that “el gallo giró” (the rooster turned)? Is the gallo’s name Giro? Is giro just a strange spelling of “hero”? 

Thankfully, Stephanie Perez, whose family has owned the truck and operated on this street corner for 19 years, is ready for the question, and caught me up to speed. 

“He’s a type of rooster that has a lot of color in him,” Perez explained. “His feathers are full of red, black and yellow and orange. So he’s one of the most popular and best roosters out there.” 

Makes sense that you’d want to name your food truck after the best of the bunch. The idea for this truck started with Perez’s uncle, who had owned food trucks in San Francisco since the ’80s. 

“Back in 2002, that’s when he gave the idea to my mom, like, ‘Hey, let’s open a food truck. I think it’ll be good for you and Jose,’ which is my dad,” Perez said. Her parents, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in the ’80s, had some money saved up and decided to take the leap. 

“My mom… she’s always been a business person,” Perez said. They bought a truck and Perez’s mother decided to pick one permanent spot in the neighborhood as their own.  

“So mom and dad drove around the Mission,” Perez said, before they landed at the same location, where they still serve tacos, tortas, and more every weekday, nearly two decades later. “We love the park and the street was super nice… so [my mom] fell in love with it. And I think it was the best decision. We love this street.” 

Perez and her siblings were born and raised in the Mission District, and Perez has been helping with the family business since the beginning, when she was 11 and first started taking customer orders. Her cousin and younger brother also help keep things running. 

Now, at age 30, she knows this is where she wants to be full-time. 

“I’ve been here all my life and it’s actually been one of the best things I’ve done,” Perez said. She graduated from City College and transferred to San Francisco State, studying business and social work. “But then I was like, you know what? I’m already in business. I don’t I don’t need to go to school for this.” 

Perez decided the “school thing” wasn’t for her and focused on the family business. Years later, she knows she made the right choice. “It makes it easy to work here because we love it.”

“I know everything now. I know how to cook now. I know if mom and dad can’t be there in the kitchen, then I can take over,” Perez said. “It’s awesome.” 

She also loves her customers’ loyalty. When her family lost their home to a fire in 2019, Perez said all they wanted was to keep working and distract themselves. “We got showed so much love from everybody … wow.” 

As with any family working in close quarters, they get on each other’s nerves sometimes, but Perez knows her family has a strong bond holding them together. “At the end of the day, it’s worth it … we’re still here rocking.”

El Gallo Giro taco truck. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Perez.

Eleni Balakrishnan

Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim over eight years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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10 Comments

  1. This is the best food truck I know. I miss working closeby and visiting often. Will have to make the trip from the Sunset sometime soon! Awesome to know more about the family business. Seriously, best carnitas!

  2. Stephanie is a former student of mine at O’Connell. She had a heart of gold back then too. 😉 Keep doing what you love!

  3. Best taco truck in Bay Area. In part because the family is so terribly sweet and friendly. Carnitas are to die for.

  4. Hands down the best tacos in SF and some of the best carnitas in the world. The agua frescas are wonderful with pineapple lime being my personal favorite. I hope they are around forever. A true staple of the community. Wonderful family.

  5. I would like to add that the last remaining bites (the burrito butt) of their carnitas burrito which has collected all the juice and flavor will cause an endorphin rush roughly equivalent to a gram of cocaine. Second to none.

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