‘110 degrees near the grill’: Intense heat taking toll on San Antonio food trucks

Food truck operators adjust to triple digit heat

SAN ANTONIO – The heat is taking its toll on outdoor businesses, including many San Antonio food truck owners and operators.

Naco Mexican food truck is in the 4300 block of Nacogdoches Road off Loop 410.

Francisco Estrada and his wife, Liz Martinez, have owned the food truck for five years.

“This is the hottest that I can remember,” said Estrada.

Like many others in the business, Naco Mexican and their employees are doing their best to stay cool during this heat wave.

“Stay hydrated. We drink a lot of water,” said Estrada. “We try to get out of the heat and kitchen for 10 to 15 minutes every two hours, more or less.”

Estrada said temperatures inside the truck can easily get over 100 degrees, even in the morning, on a hot day.

“Outside, if it’s 100 degrees, the kitchen is usually around 110 degrees near the grill,” said Estrada.

KSAT took an infrared camera inside Naco’s food truck and captured temperatures on the stove top anywhere from 200 to 300 degrees.

Estrada said they have two air conditioners and fans inside to help with the heat. They also never have more than a day’s worth of food or supplies in their refrigerator.

“We also have liquid IVs here just in case anyone is feeling under the weather,” said Maria Banda, a Naco employee. “It’s going to be hot. At the end of the day, you want to go home to shower and not go outside anymore, but you will survive it.”

Theory Coffee Co. is located next to Naco Mexican. Owner Mark Vollmer said he went two summers with basic A/C in his truck before upgrading his system.

“There’s no way I was going to do a third like that. It takes a lot out of you. At the end of the day, you’re just drained. You’re exhausted. I ended up putting a home mini-split in the trailer. Now I have that plus the roof A/C,” said Vollmer.

Theory and Naco both operate in the morning and close up shop at 2 p.m. daily.

“We are super fortunate in the fact that we have an awning above us,” said Vollmer. “I feel like that helps out tremendously. It takes a lot of the heat.”

Both truck operators said they typically see fewer customers as the day gets hotter.

“Especially on weekends, we have long lines. They just come in, grab their tacos, and they go home,” said Banda.

Get the latest forecast from the KSAT Weather team here

About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.