WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — One local pop-up is offering its own spin to the classic taco.
Vanessa and Alejandro Silva, owners of Metztli Taqueria, come from a fine dining world and use that knowledge to elevate traditional street food.
“[We] take the taco game to a different level with our style, because you won’t get that experience from someone else,” said Alejandro.
The husband and wife owners met while working at Jean-Georges’ restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria. Four years ago, they started this passion project to step away from the high-end spaces they were accustomed to, even selling on the street at first.
“It was a little nerve-wracking in the beginning, but it was fun," said Alejandro.
They were finally able to leave their jobs at the restaurant and focus on the Metztli pop-up full-time. The pandemic threw them some setbacks, but now they sell their food at the West Hollywood bar Employees Only every Tuesday for the Summer Social Club and on weekends for brunch.
They offer an ever-changing menu catering to fresh produce that’s in season. It’s even where the name Metztli comes from.
“Metztli is the goddess of the farmers and agriculture and also the goddess of the moon,” said Vanessa.
It also happens to be their daughter’s middle name. Vanessa and Alejandro want to be able to support their family through their unique food, "and kind of leave some sort of legacy for our kids. That’s what drives us," added Vanessa.
Both chefs use their fine-dining training to bring new techniques and flavor profiles to the traditional tacos.
"Everything should have texture, acid, umami, and heat," said Alejandro. "That’s what we try to incorporate in each taco."
You’ll find all these aspects in the barbacoa taco that has been around since day one. The meat is marinated overnight and then braised for six hours with Japanese dashi and later topped with frukaki. You can really taste the Asian influence. There is such depth of flavor to this one taco.
Another staple is a riff on the loaded baked potato. A corn tortilla houses fried Dutch peewee potatoes with a caramelized onion salsa, lots of cheese and a yuzu crème.
In a sea of tacos, the Silvas hope Los Angeles will come out to try their unexpected twists all while supporting small businesses still reeling from the pandemic's impact.
"We are reinvesting everything," said Vanessa. "Why not support a local business? We are doing our best honestly. You will get more of the passion and more of the drive behind the food."
Check out the passion and drive in every taco at Metztli, located at Employees Only, 7953 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA.