Iconic Taquerias El Mexicano Reopens on Calle Ocho After Two-Year Closure

There’s reason to rejoice for all taco enthusiasts! Taquerias El Mexicano, a cherished institution on Calle Ocho, is back in business in Little Havana after a shutdown of two and a half years. The iconic Mexican eatery relaunched spectacularly on February 8, marking its 39th anniversary in Little Havana. Devoted patrons and visitors will love its revitalized menu of traditional Mexican fare and cocktails, set in an inviting and vivacious ambiance.Taquerias El Mexicano’s cordial and family-oriented vibe traces back to its origins. It has received numerous accolades, including being crowned the best taco of 1999 by New Times. The restaurant was founded back in 1985 by cousins Guillermo and Mario Martinez. Their aim was to pay tribute to the taquerias from their childhood, located in the mainly Mexican Lower West Side area of Chicago.
click to enlarge Taquerias El Mexicano was established by Guillermo and Mario Martinez, two cousins inspired by the taquerias they frequented while growing up in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood in Chicago. Taquerias El Mexicano photo In 2017, the reins were handed over to Mad Room Hospitality group, helmed by Zack Bush, Ben Bush, Bill Fuller, and Darius Green. Their mission was to uphold the legacy created by the Martinezes. The group also runs Ball & Chain, a renowned jazz and salsa club in Miami, and another enduring establishment in Little Havana since the 1930s. However, Taquerias El Mexicano had to close in 2021, as the city authorities revoked its use certificate due to a building code violation. However, Mad Room Hospitality fought back through a lawsuit against the City of Miami, alleging collusion, unwarranted raids, and harassment by city commissioner Joe Carollo. They argued that the owners, who supported a rival of Carrollo in 2017, were targeted unfairly by Carrollo. While the lawsuit is still pending, the city has recently granted a permit that allowed the restaurant to restart business. Zack Bush, one of the co-owners stated, “We will remain committed to providing the food, beverages and atmosphere that Taquerias El Mexicano is renowned for. Continuing this extraordinary legacy is a matter of pride for us.”
click to enlarge Whether you are a first-time visitor or a regular customer of Taquerias El Mexicano, the feeling of returning home is inescapable. Taquerias El Mexicano photo Upon entering the dining area, you can sense the deep-rooted legacy. The interior is simple yet packed with Mexican influences in the decor and furniture. The combination of sombrero-themed lights, a wall showcasing spices, vibrant tapestries, and Banda songs set a subtle tone of Mexican cultural celebration. Regardless of whether it’s your first time here or you’re a regular, the feeling of homecoming is undeniable. The welcoming staff, with their genuine smiles and interaction, contribute to a real sense of community as they usher in eagerly awaiting customers. One Yelp reviewer noted that it’s as if you are “entering someone’s home in a town in Mexico.”
click to enlarge Taquerias El Mexicano’s chips, served warm and thick, perfectly accompany the flavorful house salsa. Taquerias El Mexicano photo The appeal of the food lies in its straightforwardness. The quality of a Mexican restaurant is often gauged by its chips. Contrary to the usually oversalted and thin varieties, these are served warm, thick and perfectly complements the flavorful house salsa. The sauces on the variety of tacos are another notable feature; chipotle aioli and cilantro cream subtly enhance the perfectly grilled shrimp underneath. The meal ended with the restaurant’s Mexican flan; its rich buttery coconut topping makes for a delicious end to a classic Mexican meal.Toward the end of our meal, the manager made an appearance to personally welcome us back. He asked whether I had visited when I was a child. Although I hadn’t, our conversation and his warmth made me feel like I have been a long time patron.
click to enlarge The Mexican flan served at the restaurant provided a perfect conclusion to a delectable Mexican meal. Taquerias El Mexicano photo Los Altos, a speakeasy and mezcal lounge situated just above Taquerias El Mexicano, is set to reopen in March.Taquerias El Mexicano. 521 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-456-5905;