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Carne asada favorite Mexicali Taco & Co. is opening a second location in the San Gabriel Valley

Esdras Ochoa of Mexicali Taco & Co.
Esdras Ochoa at Mexicali Taco & Co. in Chinatown
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Eleven years after launching a mesquite-grilled carne asada stand at the corner of 1st Street and Beaudry, Esdras Ochoa will open a second location of Mexicali Taco & Co. in San Gabriel.

The new restaurant, located in an A-frame building that was previously a Wienerschnitzel, is slated to debut in late April.

Ochoa — who relocated the original Mexicali to Chinatown in 2012 and went on to launch Sonoran barbecue restaurant Salazar in Frogtown, followed by restaurants in Hong Kong and Austin — has returned to L.A. to expand his original northern Baja taco concept in collaboration with longtime business partner Paul Yoo.

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“We’d always been keen on opening in the San Gabriel Valley because I feel that people there love Mexican food but there’s a big lack of it,” Ochoa said.

First named to Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants list in 2014, Mexicali was an early proponent of northern taco traditions, often defined by smoky carne asada, supple flour tortillas and cheese-oozing vampiros. In ensuing years, norteño-style specialists like El Ruso, Asadero Chikali, Tacos 1986 and Sonoratown have risen to citywide and national prominence.

Ochoa, for his part, has been busy. The Mexico City native traveled extensively as a global taco consultant and appeared on the Netflix cooking competition show “The Final Table” in 2018.

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The menu at Mexicali Taco & Co. San Gabriel will be similar to that of the original location, Ochoa said, but he hopes to include a few off-menu specials that reference his time spent running a Mexican restaurant in Hong Kong.

“I fell in love with the food and culture of Hong Kong, so I’m thinking of doing some plays on that mixed with our traditional stuff, just for fun,” he said. “I don’t know what it will be yet, but you’ll know it when you taste it.”

Mexicali Taco & Co., 1811 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel, mexicalitaco.com


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