New Mexican Food Park Is Taking Shape in Santa Rosa

Latino-owned food trucks, including Charro Negro, Lucha Sabina, Gio y Los Magos, La Victoria and Maria Machetes, are serving up delicious eats in Roseland.

I’ve been gushing about best bets for food at the Mitote food truck park in Roseland for more than 18 months. Ironically, this ambitious project hasn’t even officially broken ground.

I recently spoke to Octavio Diaz, the Healdsburg restaurateur leading the project, about where things stand and the upcoming groundbreaking in late September.

Over the last year or so, the food truck park has been a gathering spot in the heart of Roseland for several Latino-owned food trucks, including Charro Negro, Lucha Sabina, Gio y Los Magos, La Victoria and Diaz’s own truck, Maria Machetes.

The busy Sebastopol Road location in front of the former Dollar Tree store, now Mercadito Rosaland, has made it a destination for those seeking some of the best birria, tacos, tamales, aguachiles and tlayuda around. Tents and tables with colorful tablecloths serve as the communal dining area, allowing eaters to sample different trucks.

“There’s much more to come,” said Diaz, who was selected from a group of restaurateurs to organize and build out Mitote. He owns Healdsburg’s Agave restaurant, as well as a sister restaurant in Oakland. The Diaz family also operates Tu Mole Madre, El Gallo Negro and Mole Diaz Bros., under which Diaz’s mother makes a signature Oaxacan sauce sold by the jar at their Healdsburg market, Casa del Mole.

“I’ve been working on this for three years,” said Diaz, pointing to construction fences that only recently went up in the asphalt parking lot — a sign that the envisioned cultural heritage spot is finally moving forward.

The idea for Mitote is to create a colorful, family-friendly gathering place featuring food trucks; a bar fashioned from a shipping container; a large seating area; and a stage.

“I want to have everyone here. We want to have a mole festival, tamales festival and taco festival,” Diaz said.

He’s also considering wine and beer pairings with the Mexican food truck cuisine. He hopes visitors from all over Sonoma County will be enticed to come to Roseland to experience a modern take on the vibrant food culture of Mexico.

While Diaz and I talked, I made myself at home with a chicken and rice plate with his family’s signature mole sauce. It’s a classic Oaxacan recipe painstakingly made using dozens of ingredients. Served with roasted vegetables, it’s not fancy, but it is hearty and comforting.

I also tried a plate of tacos overflowing with grilled onions and meat as well as a tlayuda, a large tortilla topped with beans, queso fresco and meat. Both included a drizzle of mole, adding to the depth of flavor.

The surprise favorite, however, is something I profess to hate: a hot dog.

It’s not just a hot dog, but Diaz’s “famous hot dog.” I’m not a purist, so putting bacon, mayonnaise, queso and whatever other mystical ingredients on this split and griddled hot dog had me deliriously eating bite after bite.

While there, I also grabbed birria tacos from Gio y Los Magos food truck. They claim the tacos are made with a “touch of magic” (un toque de magia); the crispy fried tortillas, velvety stewed meat and melted cheese put regular tacos to shame. Dipped in consumé, they’re divine.

Though the trucks are a bit hard to find right now (on the east side of the Mercadito), it’s worth witnessing the inclusive evolution of Roseland’s food scene — tacos in hand — as bare asphalt becomes a destination food park well worth the trip.

Expect a spring-ish opening of the completed park at the intersection of Sebastopol Road and West Avenue.