Well look who is back in town. After spending the better part of the past three years traveling, appearing on television, and opening a series of globetrotting restaurants, Los Angeles’s native taco son Esdras Ochoa has returned to open a new restaurant right here at home. Ochoa plans to open a second location of longstanding Chinatown restaurant Mexicali soon, this time out in the city of San Gabriel.
A new Instagram post by Ochoa confirms the second location as the site of the Better Food, a Chinese skewer spot at 1811 S. San Gabriel Boulevard. Locals may know the restaurant building because of its parking lot and unique A-frame shape (it was, of course, a Wienerschnitzel for years). Ochoa and Mexicali partner Paul Yoo, who started as a customer at Ochoa’s street stand on 1st and Beaudry back in the day, have not disclosed an opening timeline for the new restaurant yet.
The arrival of Mexicali #2 is interesting timing for Ochoa, who only just recently opened a restaurant named Reunion 19 in Austin, Texas. He has also opened restaurants in India and Hong Kong over the past few years, and appeared on the hit Netflix food competition series the Final Table back in 2018. Esdras was even the opening chef of (and remains a partner in) Frogtown Mexican restaurant hit Salazar.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles has started to catch up with Mexicali’s menu in recent years, with an influx of stands, carts, food trucks, and restaurants now turning to mesquite-grilled charcoal, flour tortillas, vampiros, and other northern Mexico staples. Boyle Heights upstart El Ruso recently got a glowing LA Times review, and big names like Asadero Chikali have parlayed their own meat and cheese and tortilla dreams into tens of thousands of Instagram followers. Below is the full post from Ochoa on the upcoming opening.
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11 years ago I started a taco stand on the corner of 1st & Beaudry in #dtla. I had no clue what I was doing or getting myself into. All I knew was I had a dream to fulfill. Paul @bigbadtycoon was one of my first customers and we hit it off instantly. One thing led to another and we teamed up to open our first restaurant. Our goal was to expand early on but other restaurant opportunities and out of this world adventures got in the way . (Thanks for being ridiculously patient with me bro/ I love u) Finally, now 8 years later and thanks to all you beloved fans / supporters, we are happy to announce @mexicalitaco #2 opening soon!! #comingsoon #carneasada #cachetada #vampiro #zuperman #tacolife #cheflife