Santo Taco: a pillar of community in crisis 

Story by PALAK JAYSWAL

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shut down our world, it may be an understatement to say its effects on particular trades will be devastating. From entertainment to athletics, industries and workers alike will not be left unscathed by this pandemic. 

On a more local level, those who are most economically vulnerable are small business owners who rely on people leaving their houses to help pay their own bills. 

One local Utah business, a taqueria called Santo Taco, located in Rose Park at 910 N. 900 West, continues to serve people via takeout orders and curbside delivery in adherence to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic, combined with the added stress of recovery from the Magna-centered 5.7 earthquake that rocked Utah on March 18, 2020, the taqueria provides comfort to Utahns while sticking to the traditional values it is built on. 

The Story 

According to their website, the owners of Santo Taco, Claudia and Alfonso Santo, have been in Utah for decades, and their taqueria has been a work in progress for many years. When Claudia and Alfonso first got started in the food industry, they were washing dishes in the kitchen. Through years of learning skills from the culinary industry and working to build a life for their growing family, they slowly immersed themselves in the art of food. 

Originally opened in 2019, Santo Taco prides itself on its long journey through fresh food and traditional flavors. The journey is one of dedication, family and innovation. The trademark home-style cooking from Santo Taco is adapted in the owners’ way, catering to the vegetarian palates as two of the couple’s children are vegetarians. Modifying these recipes is a remarkable feature considering many Mexican plates are heavy on the meat. 

The menu of Santo Taco has something for everyone — from the tacos, of course, to quesadillas and burritos. There are several popular snack items available as well, such as nachos and asada fries. While the food is delicious, during times like these, it’s not just the food that brings customers to the doors of Santo Taco. 

Community and Crisis 

Rodolfo Rangel Jr., a realtor in Utah, is proud to dine at Santo Taco during COVID-19 lockdown. “We are together in this crisis. If we don’t support each other, everyone will be affected one way or another,” Rangel said in an interview over direct message. 

While Rangel is acquainted with Salt Lake City through his profession, he is aware of the value a support system of a community can provide. “I know the owners and I know how hard they worked to open this business. I just want to do my part. They are a hard-working family and I know they always help anyone in need,” Rangel said regarding the Santo family. 

Rangel is one of many who wants to do his part to support local businesses and families. Steve Kinyon, food blogger behind Foody Fellowship, also marveled at the quality of food from Santo Taco and the sense of stability it provides in these uncertain times. “It’s important to support local [businesses] right now because there are already thin margins,” Kinyon said in an interview over direct message. 

While Kinyon sang praises for Santo Taco on his Instagram account, he also had kind words for the people behind the food. “Santo Taco has amazing owners and operators for their business. They are genuinely great people, they care about the community,” Kinyon said. 

In times of true panic, there are certain things that provide comfort to individuals, like a good book, a warm blanket or your favorite takeout food. Self-isolating is now the norm for many people across the country, and Utah is no different. But what does this mean for local businesses? As the world continues to change on a daily basis, Santo Taco and its patrons remind us of why supporting local businesses — circumstances permitting — is important.