Since opening around four years ago in Salisbury, Taco Quetzalcoatl has won over both local diners and restaurant reviewers – even receiving a glowing write-up in the New York Times.
Now, co-owner, head chef and “kitchen soul” Margarita Galindo Gallardo has teamed up with fellow Mexican expat Marco Camarillo and Chilean-born Jaime Figueroa to launch a new restaurant in Unley.
Gallardo moved to Australia from Mexico in 2007 and saved for eight years to open the Salisbury taqueria. Named after the Mexican god Quetzalcoatl, a “feathered serpent” said to have stolen corn from the sun god and given it to humans, it serves a corn-heavy menu featuring a mix of tamales (a steamed wrap-like dish), burritos and enchiladas.
But it is Gallardo’s tacos that are the biggest hit.
“The tortilla I make is fresh and the taco is soft, not hard,” she says.
“In Mexico, for the woman, if you are unmarried and you make a tortilla fresh by hand, 100 per cent you will be married.”
If the way to the heart truly is through a tortilla then it is no wonder she has captured the hearts of so many diners. Gallardo studied cooking at a culinary school in Merida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan, but says it’s her passion for cooking that gives her food its flavour.
“In Mexico there are a lot of traditions. If you are not happy, the food is not good – the tamales will stick.
“When you are in a happy place, things flow better, but when you are sad and overwhelmed, things don’t flow.”
While Gallardo is still finalising the menu for the Unley Taco Quetzalcoatl, it will be similar to that served in Salisbury – diners can expect barbacoa (a tender slow-cooked meat – Gallardo’s meat of choice is lamb), al pastor (a roast pork taco) and chilli con carne.
Unlike the original restaurant, however, the new outlet will also have a bar serving tequila, margaritas, pina coladas, vampiritos (a mix of tequila and sangrita) and the fermented pineapple drink tepache.
Gallardo says a second restaurant has been a long time coming but it was only when she joined forces with Camarillo and Figueroa that the plan really took shape.
Camarillo says the popular response to Unley Council’s 2018 Day of the Dead festival cemented their view that Unley was where they should open.
The venue itself, which sits on the corner of Unley Road and Frederick Street, will seat 100 diners, with three rows of tables filling the space that was previously the Four Seasons Asian Bistro.
When The Forager visits, they are in the middle of moving into the space.
Camarillo says a mural and Mexican decorations will be added to the red, yellow and black-painted walls before the opening on Saturday, August 10.
The aim, Figueroa says, is for customers to feel like they are in Mexico – they want to ensure people feel “part of the family” when they enter.
Despite only recently announcing the opening of their second restaurant on Facebook, they have already been inundated with bookings. They have also had to reassure people that the Salisbury restaurant will still be open for business as usual.
The new Taco Quetzalcoatl, at 153 Unley Road, will be open Monday to Sunday, 11am to 11pm.
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