Sean Yarbrough’s Broke Boy Taco - the pop-up eatery that popped off online - is now in Mount Albert permanently.
With plain white walls and simple wooden tables and benches, the only colour being the red text saying ‘BIRRIA TACOS’ on the large street-facing window, the store is in stark comparison to the colourful, fiery and busy street food it produces.
“It’s no frills,” Yarborough told George Drive’s Sin & Brook. “I’m not trying to do any bells and whistles. I just want you to come in, focus on the food, eat the food and there you go.”
Although he blew up almost instantly - having gained over 200,000 followers on social media in 12 months - having a full-time spot was a long time coming for Yarnborough.
After moving to Auckland from San Francisco, while flipping burgers he complained to his boss Mikey Ryan about being unable to find top-tier tacos.
Ryan let him open up a pop-up taqueria in his Mount Eden burger joint Ralph's, and boom.
“I made $400 that day,” Sean shared. “Made me feel like I changed my life.”
He grew up poor, was homeless in San Fran and was not much better off when he moved here. But he stuck with it, perfecting the recipes that got him “out the mud”.
“It took me 35 years. 35 years to make something of myself. So, everybody out there, you can do it. Just keep it going.”
TikTok reviews tell me the oozing birria tacos are just as life-changing - if you can get your hands on one.
In his pop-up era, he would sell out quickly. At the store, he’s prepared for no one to leave empty-handed.
“I swear I’m not trying to sell out, I swear to you. I’m not. It’s just there’s so many people that pull up, which is a blessing. I love it.”
“It’s five hours of prep and eight hours of cooking. It takes a long time, it’s real expensive ingredients. But it’s worth it. I hope I’ve got enough - I’m pretty positive I’ve got enough.”
He could have set up shop anywhere, but it's Mount Albert - 964 New North Road to be exact - that will have lines going around the block.
“It feels like where I’m from. So it just felt a bit more comfortable, a bit more real. It’s very neighborhoody. I really wanna post up in neighbourhoods because I wanna show love to people who wanna come out and grab a bite.”
It’s stating the obvious, but Sean loves this shit. Life in the kitchen has pulled him off the street and into his wildest dreams. That’s why he’ll personally serve you the food when you inevitably rock up to his spot.
“I wanna hand you your plate. It’s important to me that I hand it you and say ‘This is every single ounce of me in this’."