La Victoria Taqueria’s orange sauce is a Bay Area obsession

There’s something delicious brewing in the South Bay. Sold by the bottle for six bucks a pop, this spicy, creamy condiment speckled with a blend of secret ingredients and plenty of garlicky flavor has such a loyal cult following that dedicated fans have even joked it has “healing powers.” 

La Victoria Taqueria’s “orange sauce” was created by owner Marcelino Barrita in the late 1990s as a simple topping he’d drizzle as a finishing touch on tacos and burritos, oftentimes leaving small bottles of the sauce on tables for customers to add a little kick to each bite. 


A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce on a quesadilla in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce on a super taco in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce on a super taco in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

La Victoria Taqueria Orange Sauce bottles available for sale at its restaurant in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
La Victoria Taqueria Orange Sauce bottles available for sale at its restaurant in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Customer Shane Mario Ruggieri places the La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce on his burrito at a restaurant in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
Customer Shane Mario Ruggieri places the La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce on his burrito at a restaurant in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE


La Victoria’s orange sauce is a customer favorite. (Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE)

But when those bottles started disappearing as quickly as they hit tables, the Barrita family knew their recipe was special. La Vic’s orange sauce has a nearly 25-year history as a favored condiment among Bay Area diners, who can purchase 12-ounce bottles to take home from all six stores, from its flagship location on East San Carlos Street, across from San Jose State, to one of its newest restaurants in Hayward on Mission Boulevard. 

One customer who recently posted in the Bay Area Eats Facebook community wrote that the La Victoria hype is real and even joked that its orange sauce may find its way on top of ice cream.

One customer who recently posted in the Bay Area Eats Facebook community wrote that the La Victoria hype is real and even joked that its orange sauce may find its way on top of ice cream.

Rondo Savage/Facebook

La Vic’s orange sauce is such a coveted family recipe, to this day, only three people know the formula: Marcelino Barrita, founder of the beloved taqueria and the man behind the sauce’s origin, and his two sons, Nick and Marcos Barrita. 

“Nobody else touches it. So we’ve never put an employee in charge of any of that,” Nick Barrita says. “It’s always been one of us, especially me and my brother, Marcos, since my dad is a little bit older now.” 

The Barrita family are originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, and Nick recalls moving to the U.S. when he was 7 years old. As the brothers grew older and started working the taqueria on East San Carlos Street, their father would make sure to leave gallons of the orange sauce to satisfy the restaurant’s dedicated following while he made trips back to Mexico to visit friends and family. At La Vic’s, all the chorizo and al pastor spices savored in the burritos, tacos and tortas are imported directly from Mexico. 

The exterior of La Victoria Taqueria in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

The exterior of La Victoria Taqueria in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

“Way back when we started, my dad, he made I think it was like six buckets. So 30 gallons, and it lasted us two weeks until he came back from Mexico,” Nick says. “Today, we use 3,000 gallons — that’s how much we pump out every month.” 

While the recipe and $6 price tag has never changed, the amount of sauce the Barrita family blends to keep up with demand has definitely increased throughout the years. So Nick and Marcos rely on two 4.5 gallon blenders to combine a mixture of onions, tomatoes, garlic and a particular variety of dried red chile, among other family-kept ingredients, to create their signature sauce. 

A sign informs customers they can buy La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce at its restaurant in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

A sign informs customers they can buy La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce at its restaurant in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

The Barrita family takes their orange sauce so seriously, in fact, that they even have a secret location in the Bay Area specifically dedicated to sauce-making. Nick says nobody else goes there except for the man in charge of blending new batches that morning. 

When it’s his turn, Marcos Barrita says he typically starts the process at 5 a.m., prepping all the ingredients to make the zesty condiment. He finishes brewing, cooling and packaging bottles around noon. From there, sauce is distributed to all six taqueria locations. 

Working in the family business since his early 20s, Marcos, now 40, says he uses the sauce on pretty much any dish he cooks at home.

A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce on a Super Nacho Fries in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
A customer spreads La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce on a Super Nacho Fries in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

A customer picks up the La Victoria Taqueria orange and green sauce at the counter of the restaurant in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
A customer picks up the La Victoria Taqueria orange and green sauce at the counter of the restaurant in San Jose, Calif. on May 10, 2022.
Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE


Customers enjoy La Victoria orange sauce. (Douglas Zimmerman / SFGATE)

“I enjoy it on everything. I’ve made deviled eggs with that sauce and it tastes really good. I’ve made chorizo and eggs with it,” Marcos says. “But I really like it with my torta. I like the torta de carne asada, and then instead of mayo, I put some of that on there, slather it on the bread and eat it like that.” 


La Vic’s sells about 10,000 bottles of its versatile sauce per month across all stores, and customers are also known to place orders by email. On the company’s website, slogans like “home of the orange sauce” decorate its homepage, putting the sauce front and center next to popular menu items such as the carne asada fries and bean-laden, pudgy tacos. 

At this time, the Barritas are working on an online store so customers will eventually be able to order the sauce directly. For now, if you’re craving a taste of this delicious family recipe, you’ll have to visit one of the taquerias to get your sauce fix. 

An employee fills up containers of La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

An employee fills up containers of La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Still, not having an online store hasn’t impacted sales, according to Nick, who says he’s witnessed customers buy anywhere from 10 to 60 bottles at a time. 

“You get curious, like, where are you taking all these bottles? So we had a lady come from Sacramento, and she would buy like 60 at a time,” he said. “I’d be like, ‘What do you want all sauce for?’ And she’s like, ‘Oh, I got friends that give me money and I come and buy it and then I distribute it.’ We even had a guy from New York who flew all the way to California just to buy it, and their friends paid for the trip just to come and get sauce.” 

Despite a wave of rumors that surfaced a few years ago, Nick says that customers can rest assured that La Vic’s orange sauce is for every palate, whether you’re a plant-based or meat-eater. 

An employee organizes La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce bottles available for sale at its restaurant in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

An employee organizes La Victoria Taqueria orange sauce bottles available for sale at its restaurant in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

“There’s no preservatives. It’s vegan. There’s been a lot of rumors out there that we put like chorizo grease and stuff like that in there,” Nick says. “That’s completely false. No, it’s always been vegan. When that rumor came out we had to put signs up that the sauce is 100% vegan. There’s no dairy, there’s no mayonnaise.” 

From salads and hamburgers to spicing up rice and marinating proteins (some customers teased they’d even try it on top of ice cream), the orange sauce’s creamy consistency pairs well with just about any food. Nick says each bottle will easily last about 30 to 45 days in the fridge  — “if it even lasts that long.” 

This simple sauce created by their father more than two decades ago is not only a part of La Vic’s unique identity among Bay Area taqueria lovers but is also central to the Barrita family legacy, adding a little kick to the simple recipes that have kept their business afloat since 1998. 

Customer Ryan Damm puts La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce on his burrito at a restaurant in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

Customer Ryan Damm puts La Victoria Taqueria signature orange sauce on his burrito at a restaurant in San Jose, Calif., on May 10, 2022.

Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

“It’s been fun. I mean, watching it grow to get to the point it is. It’s just been something I didn’t expect to get so big,” Marcos says. “Just having a family business, everybody cares about the food and everything we put out. We try to have good quality stuff. And it keeps us all together, we’re always in the same place around each other.”

La Victoria has six locations, including 140 East San Carlos St., San Jose, and 26953 Mission Blvd., Hayward. Hours vary by taqueria, visit the restaurant’s website for more information.