By Michael Somerby EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – No, auténticos tacos aren’t made with Ortega brand hard-shells, shredded lettuce and cheddar cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, “dollops of Daisy” and packet-spiced ground beef.
The real deal, much like many a tasty cuisine, is much, much simpler than that: masa tortillas, no more than 4 inches in diameter, topped with spiced meats like asada, pastor and lengua, diced onions, and cilantro complete the picture. Garnish with pickled carrot and chili for flair.
Genuine is what the Mi Pueblito, “My Little Town,” Taco Bus has brought to the Big Sky food community since its opening in late May, with the speed and consistency evocative of the Mexican food stalls thousands of miles away that inspired it. You can thank owner and operator Victor Montaña, 24, for that.
Montaña—fitting name, no?—learned the ins and outs of the mobile taco and Mexican food business from his two uncles who own similar shops in Blackfoot, Idaho, and Belgrade. He cooked for them for around five years before venturing out on his own.
“It was a good business to get in, and learning from them was helpful,” Montaña said.
Montaña, a native of Chicago, has family roots in the southwestern Mexican state Jalisco, and lived there for a period before returning to the U.S.
Despite a slightly colder climate, he says he likes Big Sky and appreciates the change of scenery—in Montaña’s eyes, the alpine pueblito is a great place to work.
“It’s a good place,” Montaña said. “And I love the mountains.”
Located next to Ace Hardware off Lone Mountain Trail, Mi Pueblito’s white and powder-blue façade provides Montaña plenty of mountains to look at—the same is naturally true for his guests, who, on a nice day, can sit at picnic tables adjacent to the bus’ shell under an array of string lights.
Rain? Snow? No problem—grab a seat on the bench-style offerings in the chrome interior of the bus, just beyond the order window.
Historically, businesses in Big Sky struggle to keep doors open during quieter times, and in some instances even in peak visitation months, but Mi Pueblito Taco Bus patrons have come to enjoy a consistency in product and order-to-serve time that keeps them coming back—authentic, delicious tastes of the motherland aside.
What’s the secret? Low overhead, quality recipes and ingredients, and trustworthy friends and family staffing the operation, says Montaña.
“He’s a friend of mine,” Montaña said, pointing at the order window and the two staffers beyond. “And he grew up in the state I lived. My uncles helped me too.”
With plans to stay open throughout the winter, Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Montaña has no plans to abandon the ethic and reliable service that has provided his taco bus with staying power and loyal customers. A little heat to beat the cold; perfect.