Life Connected

Yuca's Tacos Builds Big Legacy in Los Feliz

Mama Socorro Herrera and her daughters bring a taste of the Yucatan to LA.

They say a way to someone's heart is through their stomach. That saying couldn't ring truer for a tiny taco shack in Los Feliz known for their award-winning Yucatan-style burritos.

However, it's something else that keep customers coming back. This little restaurant serves as a window into the family secret of the mother and daughter team that is living the all-American dream.

The only time you won't find "Mama" Socorro Herrera in the kitchen is on Sunday, when the restaurant closed. "Mama" and her daughters, Dora and Margarita, are the humble head honchos of Yuca's, the legendary taco hut on Hillhurst Ave.

For 42 years, "Mama" has greeted customers. On her barstool, she writes customer orders on a paper bag or paper plate and calls out to the kitchen.

It's a familiar sight for Elsa Alvarez, who has been coming to Yuca's since she was a kid.

"It's our heritage, the cochinito pibil," Alvarez says. "If we can't go to the Yucatan, we come here."

Alvarez's mother worked with "Mama" Socorro in a factory decades ago when "Mama" used to take burritos to work and sell them. Then, "Mama" and her husband bought an 8-by-10-foot shoeshine booth and turned into a taco stand that has survived for 42 years and counting.

Today, the world within Yuca's is a snapshot of LA.

Whatever is being served up brings in people from all walks of life. Over the decades, Yuca's has become an LA institution and a destination for celebrities like Katharine Hepburn, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Beastie Boys.

The Herreras' devotion is not just to food, but to their work with non-profits benefitting causes including AIDS, homelessness and community projects like parks and libraries.

"It's been a good ride," Dora says. "It's not over. We've got another 40 years at least."

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