White Boy Tacos
TACO BOUT TASTY
White Boy Tacos is not your typical taco stand. Helmed by Ben McMillan, the white boy in question, White Boy Tacos churns out unique tacos with a bold philosophy, putting this taqueria into a category unto itself. “I saw a market for quality tacos with good ingredients that didn’t cost an arm and a leg,” says McMillan, the chef, and owner. “And because I’m a white boy, it didn’t matter how authentic my tacos were, so I needed to make my own thing. I needed to stand out.”
Standout he does. Each of his tacos has a distinctive flavor profile all their own, each one excellent in their own way. “The Rooster Cogburn”, named after John Wayne’s cowboy character in “True Grit”, has steak and hashbrowns, as Ben associates the character with a “real meat and potatoes kind of guy.” “The Foghorn Leghorn” has sake-marinated chicken breast with scrambled eggs and is super delicious. “The Jane Goodall”, his vegetarian option of orange juice and chili-marinated tofu with grilled banana is delightful. Not too sweet and filling, and “The Manuel Uribe”, made with bbq pork, bacon, and coleslaw, tastes like a 4th of July picnic wrapped up in a tortilla.
The tacos here are a perfect late night bite, halfway between breakfast and dinner, and exactly the kind of food you’re craving after a night of partying downtown. At his stall, McMillan is helped by Marcos, a downtown t-shirt vendor who moonlights as White Boy Tacos’ cook. Then there’s Ronnie who’s been coming to White Boy Tacos ever since they opened. He likes helping out and likes Ben, who’s been nothing but good to him. He acts, unofficially, as McMillan’s hype man, telling passersby just how good these White Boy Tacos are.
McMillan seems to be on a first name basis with many of the homeless men and women who walk past his stall. He treats them — as he treats everyone — with respect. It’s baked into his small businesses ethos: for every $8 someone spends at his stall (which is the cost of a burrito, or $9 for three tacos), he gives them a coupon for a free taco, encouraging them to hand it out to someone on the street.
“I live in downtown, I work here, I see homelessness every day,” Ben says. “If I can get everyone involved, if they can touch the problem, it spreads awareness.”
“I like taking care of people,” he continues. “I don’t want to just serve food. The personal aspect is really important to me. This stall is the culmination of my dreams and influences and everything that LA has afforded me.”
Backed by his delicious tacos and his strong business ethos, McMillan and his stand are serving up something special.
Written By Abel Horwitz
Photographed By Jack Stutz