If you love traditional Mexican burritos, tacos and tortillas, the opening of a new restaurant at 160 Kenan Court aims to hit the mark by offering authentic beria, carne asada, al pastor and polo.
While authentic meats will be a central part of the menu at the upcoming AzTec Taqueria, vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy marinated tofu. Homemade tortilla chips and fresh green and red sauces will also be an integral part of the fare.
The business opened in Cinco de Mayo (May 5).
The mom and dad of the owner Salvador Techpoyotel are the culinary masterminds behind the recipes in his restaurant. He said their authentic food would never have been seen in the area before. These recipes and spices have been passed down for generations.
Tecpoyotl originated in the Puebla region of Mexico. When he was four years old, his family immigrated to California where he and his five brothers worked picking vineyards for Sun-Maid Raisins during the 1990s. In 2004, they moved to the Midwest.
In Wisconsin, Tecpoyotl has risen through the ranks in a national fast-food franchise from dishwasher to delivery worker to supervisor to general manager over the course of 17 years.
He said working in an air-conditioned restaurant was an “oasis” after years in a 110-degree field.
For the past five years, he has been dreaming of taking everything he learned and starting a business for himself. Although it is much more than just making money, he wants to welcome everyone to la carne asada, or rather – everyone is invited to his barbecue.
He wants to welcome everyone as if they were his family.
“The dynastic culture of the Maya – for the lion – is strong, it’s everything,” he said. “Come to cook out, expect family culture, great food, laughter, fun and good memories, and we want it here especially.”
Tecpoyotl means “heart made of rock” in the Mayan language, and Salvador is putting all his heart into creating the cornerstone of a potential new franchise. He said he hoped the AzTec Taqueria site in Verona would be the first of many that could rival national chains.
The Mayan cross symbol in the company logo represents unity and the beginning of something new.
Get it right
The Tecpoyotl family spent a lot of time experimenting with different salsa recipes to find the right ones and hopefully become known by them. Corn flakes are made from scratch indoors using a special wooden press.
Techpoyotl said the tortillas and tortillas are fresh and locally sourced to help the community rather than have them shipped.
Techpoyotl said the beria, or shredded beef, will cook for 12 hours until it melts in your mouth.
Al Pasteur is slow-cooked, spit-roasted pork that is sliced into tacos. Those who are familiar with gyros or shawarma will recognize the vertical rotisserie that cooks meat.
“The meat is going to be traditional and explosive in the depth,” Techpoyotl said.
People can choose from corn tortillas, flour, tortillas or bowls, where they can add their choice of meat or tofu, cilantro, onion, lemon, pinto beans, cheese, white or Mexican rice and a choice of sauce.
Apart from the original recipes for Puebla food, cooking will also take inspiration from Tijuana street food.
Tecpoyotl traveled to his home in Puebla where he experimented with food for inspiration and immersed himself in the culture of his roots. He even visited the shed where he was born, which still stands somewhat.
The menu will also include traditional Mexican desserts such as tres leche cake, horchata and churros, along with agua friscas – a mix of fresh fruit and water in flavors such as mango, pineapple, cucumber and lemon.
Open atmosphere, with open arms
The restaurant has a garage door that opens on fine days to outdoor patio seating, as well as an indoor bar with a window that can open outward.
The outdoor seating is bright and colourful.
Mexican folk art flowers are painted on the walls as well as a Mayan calendar mural that includes depictions of a warrior and a jaguar, painted by artist Madison Julie Vornholt.
The two non-gender bathrooms offer unique themes. One is in black and white with a Day of the Dead graphic including skulls, and the other is in vibrant colors with images of roses called The Room of Life.
Tecpoyotl is proud that as an immigrant with only a high school diploma, he has spent three decades on his way to this point, and now wants to give back to the community.
“This build is great,” he said, “but it has more meaning to me.” “We are a local family owned business and we want everyone to be part of our family. Our mission is to be a resource to the community, helping people who have no voice. I don’t care where I come from, I want to pass on these resources and give back.”
He plans to provide free meals to local teachers, firefighters, police officers and other “heroes” in the community on a special day to be announced soon.
“We wanted to get it started right off the ground, and stay here for years to come,” Techpoyotl said.
Now he feels ready to “conquer the world”.
“I want to completely nullify everyone’s expectations with this experience,” he said. “It’s been strategically planned, with no shortcuts.”