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May 24, 2018

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Joe Downtown:

Joe Downtown: Is downtown taco shop’s name too spicy for public consumption?


Courtesy The Downtown Project

An artist’s rendering of the shipping container development planned for Seventh and East Fremont.

Container Park Construction

The Mantis is seen after being installed at the Container Park downtown Friday, July 26, 2013. Launch slideshow »

A great tasting taco by any other name would taste as great.

But a Spanish-speaking reader this week pointed out that “Pinches Tacos,” the name of a restaurant slated to open in the Downtown Container Park in November, might be a little strong.


Depending on your source, the Spanish word “pinche” doesn’t translate into a nice, mall-friendly English word. One translation is the F-word.

Turns out the word debate is nothing new for Pinches Tacos, which has operated since 2007, has five franchises so far and is considered one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in Southern California.

We couldn’t reach the owners right away, but we found a story from the website of KCET, a public television station in Los Angeles, that talked a bit about the restaurant’s name. The story quotes catering manager Jorge Anaya as saying the name came from a place of honor, not the streets.

“During the Mexican Revolution, one of my uncles was a cook for Pancho Villa,” the story quoted Anaya as saying. “The original meaning of ‘pinche’ is actually ‘sous chef,’ so it’s named after him.”

He goes on to say the restaurant’s recipes date back 150 years, and the writer opines that the menu is “perfect for people stumbling out of Sunset Strip bars, drunk out of their pinche minds.”

Though people have fussed about the name, Anaya told the interviewer: “It’s just one of those things. But we don’t take life too seriously, we take tacos seriously.”

Downtown Project managers expressed a similar feeling when asked if they had any misgivings about the name. Michael Downs, Downtown Project vice president of operations, smiled and shrugged.

The name was registered with the Nevada secretary of state as of Aug. 6, 2013. Though the English translation of “pinche” doesn’t show up anywhere as part of a business name on the state website, there doesn’t appear to be bias against businesses whose names might not sit right with everyone.

Secretary of state records show a number of businesses with profanity in their names have been registered in Nevada.

Scanning Las Vegas ordinances, none appear to explicitly state that a license may be denied if the name of a business might be considered offensive.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown; he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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