While Mexico City is a torta city, its variety of regional taco styles are world famous and coveted items for travelers to Mexico’s street food capital. There are multiple trompos slicing al pastor in every neighborhood, sweaty tacos de canasta (basket steamed tacos), suadero (beef belly), and offal simmering in silver discs of fat from tacos de fritanga (fried tacos) vendors. And there’s an endless menu of guisados, where tacos are covered with Mexican rice to absorb the liquid from colorful stews, braises, and deep fried foods. But perhaps the most popular tacos for locals in CDMX are tacos a la plancha, where slender steaks, thinly-sliced bone-in pork chops, spicy longaniza or chorizo, cecina (salt cured beef), and other meats are cooked on a flat top, then wrapped in a corn tortilla dressed with salsas and often generous sides like whole beans, nopales, grilled onions, and fried potatoes.
And now Tacos Don Manolito, a successful tacos a la plancha chain from Mexico City that has expanded to 25 locations in Mexico, Spain, and Honduras, will open its first U.S. branch in Hollywood on October 16, offering an impressive menu of tacos that are sure to be a hit in Los Angeles.
Located in a mini mall of fast food chains like Pollo Campero, Panda Express, and Yogurtland, Tacos Don Manolito also aspires to stretch across the USA, betting on their tacos campechanos, an iconic CDMX mix of chopped longaniza, chicharrón, and cecina — all cuts made in house. Angelenos are no strangers to Mexican-American taco trucks serving an array of meats cooked on a flat top, however, these are completely different. CDMX-style tacos a la plancha are fashioned with high-quality cuts of steak, house-cured meats, artisanal sausages, chicharrones, and concentrated salsas. Ultimately they reflect the culture of chilango taqueros forever dreaming up ingenious combinations.
“The recipe for the campechano comes from my grandfather [Manuel Palacio] who used to make this typical Mexico City taco, and our house salsa for us at home. It’s what I would have for my birthday parties,” says Eduardo Palacio, who began working with his father, Eduardo Palacio Sr., at the chain’s first taquería while he was in high school in the southern Mexico City neighborhood of Olivar de los Padres in 2005. Palacio started helping out his father as a dishwasher, cashier, and then waiter, he’s now is living in Los Angeles to spearhead U.S. operations.
Start with Don Manolito’s signature tacos, the campechano, dressed with smoky salsa made with a blend of dried and charred chile morita, and onions. There’s also a vegan version made with vegan chicharrón (made with rice), soyrizo, and salt-cured portobello then topped with the same chiles and spices that make this taco so delicious. The Costeño-Campechano is a spicier version of the campechano where the trio of cuts is marinated in the house salsa, just like Manolito used to do at home. And the torito is a comforting taco of cecina, melted cheese, and nopales. Don Manolito’s corn tortillas are exclusively made by a local producer, who also makes flour tortillas for the Maja, a luscious chicharrón de queso rolled into a crispy envelope of fried cheese. Gooey on the inside, the flour tortilla gets stuffed with your choice of meat. Go with the ribeye and slather on the salsa.
You can order simple tacos of cecina, or longaniza, and there are plenty of options for vegans, including rajas con crema, made with tofu cream, a cochinita pibil that uses marinated coconut strips, and the vegan campechano. There’s a fantastic guacamole, and while it comes with chips, you can add guacamole to your tacos, Mexican-style. The sleek, sit-down taquería offers aguas frescas, as well as De La Calle’s fermented and probiotic flavored canned tepaches. A dessert of bananas and runny cajeta, Mexican caramel, is also a family recipe.
Tacos Don Manolito is the first major taquería chain from Mexico City to open a branch in the United States, and the only Mexico City-style tacos a la plancha taqueria one can find in America right now. Given the success of chef Enrique Olvera’s modern Mexican destination, Damian, and the attractive rooftop bar at Cha Cha Chá, it’s clear that LA is finally primed for all things CDMX.
Tacos Don Manolito is opens October 16 at 5553 West Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Hours run noon to 9 p.m. seven days a week.