“You can’t change the world, but maybe you can make a difference for one person,” José Martinez explains. He and his family are hoping to make a difference right here in the Quad Cities, one taco at a time.
Loosely located across from the Quad City Expo Center (on the opposite side of the curve) at 2700 5th Ave. in Rock Island, Taqueria El Pendiente is owned by Hortencia Gonzalez and Agustin Martinez.
The mission behind the restaurant (besides good food) is Gonzalez’s dream – a taco pendiente.
Hortencia based this dream on the popular pendiente cafés. Pendiente means pending. Café means coffee. A pending coffee is one that has already been paid for by another patron. Originating in Naples, Italy, pendiente cafés have spread across the world. People are paying for their own coffee and then one or more extra, so those that can’t pay can still enjoy a beverage.
A taqueria el pendiente is just that. A restaurant that specializes in tacos (taqueria) you can pay forward, or literally, tacos with delivery pending (pendiente). Basically this generous restaurant is a small (or big, I’d say) innovative feed-the-hungry campaign right in our own neighborhood.
Taqueria El Pendiente takes payment for folks to be able to stop by and get fed. There’s a board on the counter and the names of those who have given are listed along with the tacos available as “pending.” The hungry can stop by and ask to for a taco anytime.
While Taqueria El Pendiente is a great place for you to enjoy a taco, a burrito or maybe a quesadilla, it’s also a place you can give back. There’s nothing quite like feeling full in mind, body, and spirit.
The food is flavorful, made to order, and easy on the budget. You can order per item and add arroz & frijoles (beans and rice) or chile asado (grilled peppers). The small building has charming red booths and an open kitchen where you can see your food being cooked.
Robb McCoy, pastor at the nearby Two Rivers United Methodist Church, explains why he loves stopping by Taqueria El Pendiente, “The food is fantastic. I also enjoy talking with José. He and his family have that special generosity that makes a real difference in our community. We’re lucky he chose to feed people in Rock Island.” McCoy says his favorite meal is tacos alpastor which, of course, makes my pun-loving self smile.
Whatever you choose to try, I think you’ll enjoy! I highly recommend a meal at Taqueria El Pendiente. Right now (early November ’17), there is a bit of construction on 5th Avenue, so turn on 28th Street and drive through the alley to the parking lot – it’s well worth it!