The number of food trucks on Mexico City's streets is growing, but the fledgling industry faces challenges from regulators and the gangs that control the streets of the capital.
Food trucks are viewed as a better option for those looking to get a quick bite than traditional food vendors, but operators of the vehicles have been unable to obtain permits from local officials, who have not created specific licenses for the new businesses.
The trucks, which are considered cleaner sources of food, offer more dishes, do not litter or block streets and are less expensive than restaurants, food truck owners told Efe.
The trucks, however, face the same problems as other new businesses, with owners often forced to pay street gangs so they can park at a certain location.
"That was the big mistake, outfitting the truck without dealing with the issue of permits. People saw it as really easy and that's why they are multiplying, but the reality is different," Enrique Gonzalez, owner of Japanese-themed food truck Sushingon, told Efe.
The Mexican Food Trucks Association is working to get officials to create a special category of permits for the rolling restaurants to operate legally.
About 40 food truck owners belong to the association, which was founded this year.
Gonzalez said he took his truck off the streets to avoid problems and is focusing on private events and the Food Truck Bazar, a monthly food truck rally in Mexico City.
Food trucks are not a "fad" and will become common in Mexico City as they have in cities like New York, the entrepreneur said.
"It's a business model that does not require much capital ... and is not like a restaurant that you open somewhere and if it doesn't work out, you end up closing it. Here you have the advantage that if a location does not work, you can try another and another," Gonzalez said.
One of the pioneers in the Mexican food truck industry is chef Edgar Nuñez, who owns the Sud 77 restaurant and two food trucks, one specializing in seafood and the other in hamburgers.
Food trucks will survive in Mexico City because residents are used to eating street food and have a passion for food, Nuñez said. EFE