Villas Tacos, Highland Park’s popular cheese-encrusted taco shop, announced this week that it will open in the abandoned Belcampo Meat Company stall at Grand Central Market. Owner Victor Villa revealed the upcoming sophomore location in an Instagram post, though there is no confirmed opening date yet.
Villas Tacos’ rise in Los Angeles is a spectacular one. Starting as a weekly pop-up out of his grandmother’s backyard in 2018, Villa found increased demand and moved operations to Highland Park’s busy York Boulevard stretch soon after. He pulled in additional staff and added mesquite-smoked griddles and a salsa station with a festive vibe, while his menu and energetic personality lured in customers. Music would blast from speakers are passers-by gawked at plates of Villas’ hefty signature tacos.
After a season three appearance on Netflix’s Taco Chronicles and back-to-back wins in L.A. Taco’s annual Taco Madness tournaments, Villa’s visibility skyrocketed. In 2022, Villa also won a $100,000 grant to assist with a brick-and-mortar space, which opened in February 2023 in a strip mall in Highland Park, followed soon after by a June Michelin Guide “new discovery” acknowledgment. Today, Villas Tacos visitors can count on lengthy lines during peak hours — and, soon, a second location to help the crowds.
After a high-profile 2021 scandal involving accusations of purposefully mislabeled animal products sold at its multiple retail outlets across California, Belcampo Meat Company ceased operations without notice overnight. That left the Grand Central Market stall empty for almost two years, as speculation on what should replace the large stall, with its standalone kitchen, ran rampant amongst market regulars. Belcampo’s vacant 1,000-square-foot space was impossible to miss and situated near the parking garage and elevators.
At the moment, Villa has not announced an opening date. Those visiting the 106-year-old marketplace will already find a new paint job. Eater LA reached out to both Villa and Grand Central Market but has not heard back.
The vendor lineup at Grand Central Market changed significantly since Langdon Street Capital bought the market in 2017. More recently, PBJ.LA, Clark Street Bread, and decades-old operator Chiles Secos closed last spring. Broad Street Oyster Company, burgers from For the Win, Ghost Sando, and Maple Block Meat Co. opened throughout the last 15 months. Villas Tacos will be the fourth Mexican restaurant in Grand Central Market after longtime vendors Villa Moreliana, Tacos Tumbras a Tomas, and La Tostaderia. See Villas Tacos' full Instagram post below.