Dining Preview: Introducing Tacos Rudos
When Tacos Rudos applied to join Cameron Mitchell Restaurants’ food hall venture, Budd Dairy, the immigrant-owned business didn’t have a restaurant, a food truck or a catering presence. Yet somehow, Ana Cruz and her underdog Tacos Rudos team (many of whom are family members) were ready to brawl, vying against more than 100 other applicants for one of nine spots in the Italian Village food hall, which is expected to open this year.
Scrappiness is part of the Tacos Rudos brand—and family history. Cruz, whose family hails from Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca, has an uncle who was a luchador (professional wrestler) in the 1970s. In lucha libre, Mexico’s popular version of professional wrestling, two distinct characters are pitted against each other—symbols of good versus evil. The técnicos are the rule-following good guys, while the rudos are the villainous baddies. Cruz’s uncle was a rudo. “They don’t follow the rules at all, and they just do their own stuff,” says Cruz, who remains a fan of the sport. Her brother, Uli, thought it was the perfect name long before the eatery had a place to call home.
After the Budd Dairy applicants were winnowed down to 16 finalists, they competed Shark Tank-style for the final nine spots by preparing food for 14 members of the CMR leadership team, says Steve Weis, CMR’s vice president of development.
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How did Tacos Rudos’ team impress the judges despite its thin resume? “Two things,” Weis says. “Family values—just a family-oriented group of people is one. Two, they made everything from scratch,” he says, adding that their anonymity was a big factor, too. “Honestly, the most important thing to me was that they didn’t exist,” he says. “This was unbelievable food that wasn’t in the city yet.”
Instead of wielding chairs, Cruz says they were able to convince the Budd Dairy deciders with colorful and authentic Mexican street food such as freshly made salsas, guacamole and elote, the Mexican street corn that’s covered in mayonnaise, chile powder and cheese. “That’s our culture. You know, it’s very colorful, very bright. So just seeing all of that in the food, I think that made a huge impact [on] them,” she says.
Tacos Rudos’ specialty will be tacos al pastor, a variety of tacos that feature pork prepared on a vertical rotisserie, or “trompo,” served on corn tortillas, made fresh daily in front of customers from an open kitchen. Other likely menu items include gringas, a style of al pastor taco served with cheese and pineapple on flour tortillas. Cruz says her team also plans to serve drinks like homemade horchata and agua frescas.
“We’re thinking about having specials every now and then,” says Cruz. “Making tamales or things like that ... or even making something crazy like, you know, tacos with grasshoppers,” a Oaxacan delicacy.
Located in an annex on the east side of the Budd Dairy building, Tacos Rudos will have a unique space all its own. Separate from the main dining room and the food hall’s other eight vendors, Tacos Rudos’ kitchen will face another dining area that opens through a garage door into a beer garden.
Just remember: The chairs are for sitting with a taco and a cold beer, not for throwing.