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J FLAMEZ BBQ: Not your dad’s tacos

James Rueles, the owner and founder of J FLAMEZ BBQ, creates out of this world tacos at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market. (courtesy photo)

J FLAMEZ BBQ: Not your dad’s tacos

By Jill Alexander

If you’re tired of the usual tacos, maybe it’s time to try a more health-conscious version.

Meet James Rueles, the owner and founder of J FLAMEZ BBQ, who has a booth at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market on Thursdays.

Rueles, who was raised in Baja, started J FLAMEZ BBQ about three months ago with his wife Carmen, who runs the business side.

“I have been talking about having a food business for many years and have a fiery passion for it. The first-day selling tacos, I sold out in three hours,” he said. “I’m doing this full time and gave up my job of 18 years in construction – and putting in my all. It’s getting there.”

Rueles has been grilling meats with a wood fire vs. just a flat iron, that he said, “loses its flavor,” since he was a teenager.

“The grill is the chef that cooks it. I’m just the artist who places the ingredients to my liking with a fiery passion burning inside me from start to finish. Since I started, I’ve had countless people tell me it was the best taco they’ve ever had in their life,” he said. “As long as my customers are happy, I will continue this line of work. This is my first job as a cook, ever.”

These aren’t tacos with crispy shells, but hipper and healthier for you.

“My thing is ‘smoky tacos,’ and I create them on an oak wood fire with freshly grilled meats and fire-roasted salsas,” said the father of three. “The one and only oak wood fire, skirt steak taco in town. It’s a real show to watch.”

What makes him so enamored with barbecue fare?

“There’s something about food that’s made with a wood fire that sparks a fire of life inside my soul,” he said. “Barbecue brings people together and wakes up all the senses within us. It sets off a positive energy that brings everyone to the same table to share expressive thoughts and a happy tummy, which every human should experience on this floating rock every day.”

Rueles likes the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s market because “The energy at this market is very positive and healing. From all the vendors doing what they enjoy, Bev (market manager Bev Cassity) creates a killer time that lures people in with great smells and happy faces.”

Rueles hopes to someday have an outdoor open-style Baja/rustic feel in the kitchen with a nature garden/preserve to plant organic veggies. 

“I want to create food consciousness with ancestral cooking methods to create healing tacos. It would also be an opportunity for me to give back to the community by having free cooking classes for kids and teach them how to make handmade tortillas and create their idea of a great taco,” he said.

Visit J FLAMEZ BBQ’s booth at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market, held from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. each Thursday at 10045 Carroll Canyon Road.