In less than three years, Tacos Y Que has gone from a backyard pop-up sensation to a full-fledged restaurant in the historic Uptown area of Whittier serving carne asada, pollo asado, and even chopped beef bulgogi tacos filled with melted Monterey Jack cheese griddled until the edges are golden brown. But it hasn’t been an easy journey for founders Bryant Siono and Omar Reyna, who had their once entire mobile setup stolen. They overcame the major setback to eventually open a sleek, orange-accented standalone restaurant in August 2022.
Siono, a music producer who also works on The Masked Singer, wasn’t sure if he and Reyna could continue the business after their mobile setup had been stolen. Though other owners have been involved with Tacos y Que, Siono and Reyna, who met through the music industry, had to make a decision. Reyna wondered, “Are we all in on Tacos y Que? Once the pandemic ends, do we go back to our regularly scheduled programs?”
A lucky break came when a friend helped them land a regular service at Whitter Brewing Company to serve their cheesy, meat-filled tacos to a craft beer crowd. Tacos y Que served at the brewery until their Uptown Whitter location was completed.
Those new to Tacos y Que should start with the TYQ Tour, a sampler of three tacos made with carne asada, beef bulgogi, and pollo asado served on Sonoran-style flour tortillas made by La Princesa Tortilleria in East LA. The asada tacos feature a standard topping set of griddled Monterey Jack cheese, onions, cilantro, guacamole, and chopped red onions. Bulgogi tacos, traditionally a Korean barbecue meat, evolved from a dish Siono made for his children. He takes marinated thin strips of sirloin steak and garnishes it with the griddled cheese and a slaw of onion, purple cabbage, carrots, roasted corn, and other ingredients. The play between the sweet and savory, along with the various texture of the vegetables helps this taco stand out.
The steak picado taco was made on the fly during Tacos Y Que’s pop-up days. The base carne asada is then sauteed with a spicy red sauce and caramelized onions, placed into a tortilla with jack cheese, plus a mix of cilantro and onions. To calm the heat, ask for guacamole. The spice level on this taco will make it burn, but all the flavors are there.
The Keto burrito is another of Siono’s creations. At a Glendale pop-up, Siono saw a customer eating their tacos with a fork. Curious, he asked the customer why and he explained he was on a ketogenic diet. Bryant’s instinct was to head to the plancha and spread a handful of cheese in the shape of a tortilla and get it to a desired texture. He added chopped carne asada and rolled it into a burrito directly right on the plancha.
With the help of friends and family, the TYQ brand has been able to sustain itself and expand. They leaned on their brand-building experience in the music industry to create a solid business. One day, they hope to open a restaurant in Las Vegas and eventually find ways to intersect their interests in music with food. Until then, enjoy this first album of cheesy, grilled meat tacos in Whittier.
Tacos y Que is open Tuesday through Sunday, lunch through dinner, at 12824 Hadley Street in Whittier, CA 90601.