Meet our Chef and Owner - Alex Soto - Awarded One of the TOP 10 Chefs in Napa, California
How it Started?
We want to make sure that in every bite you get the full experience - Alex Soto
The Jalisco, Mexico, native specializes in traditional Mexican fare, which prompted him in 2014 to create a snack bar, Calaveras, in Napa. He has since joined the Elements Restaurant Group to create Pico Modern Taqueria, which offers classic Mexican dishes in taco form while utilizing fresh, local ingredients. Soto will be creating a Mexico City inspired hot dog taco with Heritage Pork chorizo, Heirloom potato, tomatillo and pickled cabbage, drawing inspiration from 2000’s “Amores Perros.”
Two years ago, a group of friends became business partners and called themselves Element Group. Their first project is their PICO Modern Taqueria, a food truck that makes “Authentic Mexican dishes but with a big Napa twist,” explained the managing partner and chef, Alex Soto.
Twist is an understatement. The team members are Latino by origin but have lived and worked in the Napa Valley for years, often at locations such as the Michelin-three-star-rated Restaurant at Meadowood. With their histories and experience, they’ve transformed simple tacos into works of art.
“I’ve always found working with food something that I loved to do,” Soto said. “Early on, I liked the life of a cook — it’s a fast life within the four walls of a kitchen and even more so within a truck. I always wanted to share my cultural heritage through food with the people living here in the Napa Valley, to blend both experiences but at the same time taking them to another level.”
PICO Modern Taqueria can often be found at the Napa Premium Outlets or at Napa’s St. Clair Brown Winery and Brewery.
The menu is limited, with only six tacos available ($7 each or $15 for three). Each creation begins with different handmade tortillas and is then topped with a range of items that are more reminiscent of Chez Panisse than your typical Mexican fare. I have never witnessed a taco being made with tweezer-placed micro cilantro and sprinkled with sun-dried tomato dust. But at PICO those are just the finishing touches to layers of crafted ingredients such as duck confit with roasted almond and cacao nibs or crispy fried squash with poblano cream or the hearty slab of pork belly with slivers of finely julienned mint and chilies, accented with perfect tiny brunoise cubes of pineapple.
“We might take a little longer than other trucks,” Soto said. “But we want to make sure that in every bite you get the full experience.”