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Former Los Gallos owners open new downtown taqueria
Taqueria la Primera
Sergio and Esmeralda Gutierrez (pictured far right) are teaching their children Estevan, Jocelyn and Elise the ins and outs of the restaurant industry at their new downtown restaurant Taqueria La Primera (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

Name of business: Taqueria La Primera

Type of business: Mexican restaurant

Location: 144 S. First St. in downtown Turlock

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday

Contact information: 209-620-8565

Specialty: Cream of Spice, Tacos Locos


History of business:

Many Turlock residents are probably familiar with the cuisine cooked up by Sergio and Esmeralda Gutierrez, but they may not recognize the business owners’ new family affair in downtown Turlock: Taqueria La Primera. 

After a decade of operating Restaurante Los Gallos across town, the Gutierrez family has spent the last year and a half preparing for their new business venture right off Main Street which opened this month. While Taqueria La Primera may have a different menu, Sergio Gutierrez says customers will recognize the new restaurant’s “same great taste and same great flavor.”

“It’s not the same menu, and when you walk in here you feel like you’re at home,” Sergio said. “That was our intention, because this time it’s a lot more family-oriented.”

The new taqueria is the result of months of hard work, with the Gutierrez family transforming the current space from a rundown former bar into a welcoming restaurant, complete with a seating area, custom lighting and soon, a back patio with outdoor seating. 

After the closure of the Hawkeye Avenue and Golden State Boulevard intersection coupled with rent increases caused Los Gallos to close a couple of years ago, Sergio and Esmeralda came across the downtown location they now describe as their “golden nugget.” 

“We’re a little bit away from the main downtown area, but we have faith that it’s going to work,” Sergio said. “We’re here to liven it up and make people come check us out.”

Taqueria La Primera gets its name from its location on First Street, and the railroad tracks on the restaurant’s logo are an homage to the scenery just outside its front door. The restaurant sits in the very same spot where Turlock’s first taco trucks once parked, making it the perfect place to grab some homemade tortillas and cream of spice, Taqueria La Primera’s specialty of creamy chicken with a hint of spicy chili sauce.

Sergio and Esmeralda’s eldest children were just one and three years old when Los Gallos first opened in 2008 and growing up around the restaurant industry prepared them to now work at Taqueria La Primera alongside their parents in their teens. Sergio and Esmeralda hope they can contribute to downtown Turlock’s well-known restaurant scene while continuing to teach their children the ins and outs of the industry.

“In this new venture, it is mesmerizing to take a step back and see our two eldest children helping out...our third, who is seven years old, is also a sponge and embraces the food service life,” Esmeralda said. “The engagement and ideas from our children are invaluable. The knowledge they have is priceless, from understanding every aspect of the business to just knowing why specific things are important.”

"They're learning everything and that's the best part about it," Sergio said.