Raleigh, N.C. — Chef Jose “David” Pereza-Arce is well known for his tacos and Mexican fare, but he’s not stopping there.
Pereza-Arce previously worked up menus at Gonza Taco y Tequilas, Mez and Cantina South, and now his 2-year-old truck, The 13th Taco, shares the same flare for fusion Mexican food. Chef David and his wife, Marilyn, turn out tacos topped with smoky pork belly or seared filet mignon, chorizo tofu or double-breaded fried chicken.
For dessert, grab a Margarita Heaven Tres Leches Cupcake whipped up by Marilyn — the soft cake comes dripping with sweet milk, topped with buttercream frosting and sprinkled with candied lime peel that’s soaked in tequila.
Running the truck is a full-time (and more) job for David and Marilyn, but Marilyn said it gives them a freedom they didn’t have in brick-and-mortar restaurants. Each day is a new location and new faces, Marilyn said, and seeing those new faces enjoy their food makes it worth the work.
“They eat it first with their eyes,” Marilyn said, “and they’re like, ‘Holy mackerel!”
But, despite the truck’s name, don’t get hung up on tacos.
On a recent February day, David and Marilyn were setting up the truck outside Bond Brothers Beer Company in Cary. Under a gray sky, the chef was putting the finishing touches on three new appetizers for the truck’s catering business.
His Italian-inspired bruschetta came with a healthy dollop of the in-house Burrata cheese, locally grown tomatoes and a balsamic reduction; he plated a “continental” dish of seared scallops, crispy pork belly and cauliflower puree; and he served a southern classic — shrimp and grits.
The catering side of the truck is up and running, but David said he will continue to develop other recipes to keep the menu fresh.