A green, white and red banner outside of 26 Business Loop 70 E. bearing the words “COMO ESTA TAQUERIA MEXICAN GRILL” is the only indication from the street that people can purchase tacos and other popular Mexican foods inside Loop Liquor & Convenience Store.
Como Esta Taqueria has been open for two months and has seen a lot of business, said Daniel Abraham, owner of both the restaurant and liquor store. Local foodies may recognize its location as the former address of Taqueria Don Pancho, a popular taco joint that closed at the end of May and is set to open soon in its new location on Peachtree Drive.
Loop Liquor used to lease out the kitchen to Taqueria Don Pancho, but the contract didn’t work out, Abraham said.
“Basically, we jumped into it and we opened another taqueria,” he said.
The restaurant’s best-selling meat option is carne asada, Abraham said. Others on the menu are fellow standards al pastor, pollo, carnitas, chorizo and barbacoa and, like Don Pancho before it, the all-meats discada. All can be ordered in traditional tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos and part of a plate that includes rice and beans. The menu itself is two-sided: One side is in English, the other in Spanish.
A theme at the heart of the restaurant is freshness.
“We don’t use any kind of canned food, meaning everything is fresh and everything is from scratch,” Abraham said. “Some restaurants use cans of beans and stuff like that, but we don’t. Everything is fresh.”
Abraham has made some improvements to the space since Taqueria Don Pancho closed and Como Esta Taqueria opened. There’s now a long wooden picnic table in the store where customers can sit and eat, complete with salt, pepper, napkins and silverware.
Como Esta Taqueria accepts credit cards and offers delivery service. Its hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
There are benefits of combining the liquor store and restaurant under one owner, since customers can now pay for all their purchases together at the front counter.
“It makes it easier and convenient for our customers,” Abraham said.
Paleteria El Tajín adjusts hours, enjoys successful first week
The owners of newly opened Mexican restaurant and ice-pop shop Paleteria El Tajín are enjoying prosperity downtown just days after opening.
The restaurant, a family-owned operation at 923 E. Broadway, opened Saturday. It offers ice pops topped with Tajín, a Mexican seasoning, along with entrees such as tacos and tamales.
The restaurant’s owners originally planned to remain open until 3 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. However, co-owner Diego Herrera said the shop will now open at 11 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. during those days until the restaurant can hire more employees.
Despite the abridged hours, Herrera said the success of the restaurant’s opening weekend surpassed his expectations.
“We knew we were gonna get people,” Herrera said, “but we didn’t think we were gonna get the response we’ve been getting. It looks like people really enjoyed coming here.”
Herrera said he sees the ice pops as a selling point in a market soon to be saturated with Mexican cuisine.
As Taqueria Don Pancho gets close to reopening, Coma Esta fills in in its old space and El Oso Mexican Grill prepares to open its own doors, Herrera said El Tajín’s desserts allow the business to differentiate itself from the other restaurants.
“We have a little bit of everything,” Herrera said. “It’s not your typical ice cream shop.”
Herrera said El Tajín will continue to operate from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays.
Cherry Street Cellar also open for business
Cherry Street Cellar opened its doors to the public Monday.
Located at 505 Cherry St., the restaurant was previously known as The Wine Cellar & Bistro before owners Craig and Sarah Cyr sold the Columbia institution after 16 years to former employees Dan Bauer and Ali Ratcliffe Bauer.
Dan Bauer said the new restaurant currently is taking reservations through Resy.com.
The new Cellar’s hours are 4-9:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 4-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It’s closed Sundays.
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