February 2, 2024

Why Don't Gay Guys Like Tacos?

Ten years ago, five men were at the center of a national civil-rights controversy after they kissed in a Chico's Taco Shop in El Paso, Texas. Their story sparked national debate, led to improved anti-discrimination training for local police, and helped to bring more attention to the issue of gay sexual harassment.

The incident has also made many people wonder: why don't gay guys like tacos? But the answer isn't as simple as, "Yah, we just don't."

In an era where it's common for people to use dating apps to seek out romantic partners, it's not unusual for a love of food to become a defining characteristic in a profile. But why is it that a mention of tacos in an online profile is so often seen as a red flag?

That's the question Brian Aster and David Madrigal—both of whom identify as queer—wanted to answer when they opened their taqueria in Portland last year. Located on SE Belmont Street, Taqueria los Punales is North America's first LGBTQ+ Mexican restaurant. It specializes in serving traditional taqueria cuisine, including street tacos, like the guisado sampler that consists of mole, adobada (pork loin in adobo sauce), and taco de puerco.

The name, Los Punales, means punches or hits—a reclaiming of a word once used as a pejorative for gay men. Madrigal and Aster wanted the space to feel boldly original and fearlessly queer. And the menu does not disappoint. The pair tested recipes extensively, making sure to include dishes that reach into the distinct street-taco tradition—and that feature the flavors of their own family's heritage.


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