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La Mo chef overcomes adversity, branches out with new food truck
Tito's Parrilla
After Delhi resident and La Mo Café executive chef Tito Alvarez experienced multiple setbacks in 2020, he persevered and recently accomplished his goal of opening his own food truck, Tito's Parrilla (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

Name of business: Tito’s Parrilla

Type of business: Food truck and catering

Location: 401 S. Golden State Blvd., Turlock

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Contact information: 209-585-8422

Specialty: “El Valle” style menu items


History of business:

Starting a new business is almost always an uphill climb, but Delhi resident Tito Alvarez could never have imagined the trials and tribulations he would face on his way to opening up Turlock’s newest food truck, Tito’s Parrilla, at just 26 years old.

The truck’s story began two years ago when Alvarez and his father bought a used food truck right before the start of the pandemic, and Alvarez planned on using the vehicle to expand upon his already successful catering business. Many Turlock residents are likely familiar with his cooking; he’s served as La Mo Cafe’s executive chef since 2018 and has worked at the restaurant since 2015.

“I’ve been cooking since I was 10. Living in a Mexican household, my mom was always cooking and my grandma was always cooking,” Alvarez said. “That’s why I gravitated towards it, because I saw how even after the toughest day working, they could come home, make some comforting food and be back in a blissful moment…I’ve always loved cooking for people and seeing that moment.” 

With support from his other job at La Mo, Alvarez and his father began the process of starting up the food truck as worldwide shutdowns commenced, from filling out paperwork to getting the vehicle up to code. Then, disaster struck when Alvarez and his immediate family contracted COVID-19 over the summer of 2020. Both Alvarez and his father were hospitalized for a short time and his sister was placed in the ICU. 

Though all three recovered, the trouble wasn’t over for Alvarez yet. He was dealt another blow with the tragic death of his cousin just weeks after returning home from the hospital. Then, after feeling pain for a few weeks following his fight with COVID, he was told by doctors that the virus had left him with a pulmonary embolism and two additional blood clots in his legs. 

Alvarez received treatment and medication for his condition, but it’s safe to say that Tito’s Parrilla food truck was put on hold as he and his family recovered from a months-long ordeal. Plenty of blessings have been bestowed upon Alvarez since then, however. He and his fiancé were married, and they’re expecting twins which will be born this month. 

By 2021, plans were in motion for Tito’s Parrilla and the truck was well on its way to becoming reality. In 2022, the new food truck celebrated its grand opening on Jan. 4. Alvarez mans the truck with help from his mom, sister and best friend. After he works in the morning at La Mo and gets the kitchen ready for the day, he heads down the street to his new endeavor.

“It just goes to show how much of a roller coaster life can be. There are two years of my life invested into this truck, and it’s so much more than a truck for us,” Alvarez said. “It’s living through 2020. It’s the salvation of our family. It’s our happiness.”

Alvarez’s cuisine is providing happiness for the community as well, and he describes it as his homage to the Turlock taco trucks he’s come to know and love. Tito's Parrilla is a bit different though — the meats are marinated and charbroiled, quesitacos provide a mouthwatering, cheesy alternative to street tacos and customers go crazy for the truck’s “El Valle” offering, which dresses menu items up with all three meats, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, cheese and a variety of creamy, flavorful salsas.

The truck also offers different special tacos during the week, like birria and mole, and will eventually be selling other items like whole chickens and tri tip cooked on a Santa Maria grill.

The support in just a few short weeks has been astounding, Alvarez said, making the journey to get there all the more worth it.

“It’s unreal seeing all of the posts on Instagram and all of the people who have come out to try the food. It’s unreal and there are no words that can express what this means,” he said. “This is my future for my kids and my family.”