On the Monday before Thanksgiving, moments after the LA County Board of Supervisors announced it was likely to suspend patio dining in LA due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, chef Enrique Olvera and his team found themselves in an all-too-familiar scenario for restaurants in the pandemic. The exhausting and soul-crushing cycle of pivoting, closing, reopening, and pivoting again was simpler this time around — tacos.
“It’s something that at the very least we’d talked about, and the ideas were already floating around, but this soft opening was definitely quicker than we expected,” said Damian and Ditroit chef de cuisine, Jesús Cervantes. Starting today at noon, Olvera’s Ditroit will go live for delivery and takeout on Tock through the restaurant’s website, featuring a seasonal taco menu incorporating traditional cooking methods, ingredients, and hospitality that have become Olvera’s calling card. Damian, the chef’s more upscale Mexican restaurant across from Bestia, opened in October for on-site outdoor dining, but is closed for now.
After final service at Damian last Wednesday, which had been booked through the new year, Cervantes and Olvera collaborated to finalize the menu for their taquería, which will soon be available on other delivery apps as well. Detroit’s opening menu will feature the chilango street food standard, suadero tacos, a Mexican steak cut from the belly. And they will be experimenting with their trompo (vertical spit), maybe al pastor, tacos árabes, or a vegetable-based taco roasted on the spit. “It’s a taquería concept, fast and flavorful,” said Cervantes. One of the most tempting items that will anchor the menu is a fish machaca (chopped fish) flauta (a deep fried taco) made with swordfish from Baja California, and Mexican barbacoa technique will be employed for Ditroit’s smoky, mushroom barbacoa taco.
Other items, like ceviche, will be added to the menu when Cervantes happens across some firm white fish. Served as a side dish, esquites (corn in a cup) made with white corn with a chicatana ant mayo are a tribute to the iconic first course dish on the Pujol menu in CDMX. Mole lovers can count on daily tamales de mole negro made with changing guisados — this week it’s romeritos with purslane — and even tlacoyos, or masa diamonds stuffed with refried beans.
To drink, there are micheladas and spiked horchatas to go with your tacos, as well as salsa, guacamole, and totopos (please don’t call them chips). Detroit aims to please, so popular items will stay on the menu as they continue to develop in the coming weeks. When dine-in returns, both Damian and Ditroit will be open at the same time. “This isn’t the way we planned it, but we’re actually excited to be creative again with this taco concept,” said Cervantes.
Ditroit’s tacos cost between $6 to $7 each, desserts between $4 to $5, with 16 ounce beverages at $12. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. daily.