A Story Of A Non-Mexican Taqueria

Discover the story of how a non-Mexican taqueria came together and flourished as a new favorite.

Taqueria Franco partner RJ Galang and cousin Chef Miko Calo sometimes get into these moments where they give each other “what if” situations to think about. He gives examples like “What if we did an underground supper club? What if we served up foie gras sandwiches for kicks? Sometimes sensible, often kind of random.”

A Story Of A Non-Mexican Taqueria
Toogy Clavecilla, Miko Calo, RJ Galang, Laveena Clavecilla/ Photo courtesy of Taqueria Franco

Conversation to Reality

One evening they were joking around and he said “What if we gave a drunk French chef a tortilla, and had her make something? What would she make?” In theory, that could have been describing the then slightly inebriated Miko who says

Cordon bleu quesadilla/ Photo courtesy of Taqueria Franco

“Being cousins, we have a long history of not being serious with each other, but also knowing when the jokes start to become serious. We were eating tacos one night and discussed what if this person made a taco, or this one, or that one. The conversation went on long enough to reach a point where we were both aware that wheels were already turning. There was an idea, and we were going along with it. RJ immediately had a working concept for it. On my end, I was already taking mental notes of flavors I wanted to explore. Because the conversation that started it happened the way it did, figuring out the next steps for it was fun and exciting.”

Duck confit taco/ Photo courtesy of Taqueria Franco

RJ narrates “Miko started spit-balling suggestions, but we both kept going until the joking around felt like the beginning of a potential concept. That same night I had all these ideas in my head already. I already had a name for it and what I wanted the logo to be. I’ve always liked tacos and the idea of opening a taqueria, so putting this all together felt like everything falling into place. We approached our friends, Toogy and Laveena Clavecilla with the idea, both of whom have F&B backgrounds. They not only became our partners, but their dog Elvis became our logo!” By the way, Elvis is female! The logo of the hip new place is actually Elvis wearing a Mexican mask called a luchador.

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New Age Authenticity

Taqueria Franco is not Mexican. People should know that before they expect it to be. RJ also asked “Does the necessity for authenticity sometimes stump the growth of creativity? In talking about the taco, while Mexican, it is a dish that has extended far and wide, spanning countless permutations, tastes, and textures.

A Story Of A Non-Mexican Taqueria
Raclette bacon quesadilla/ Photo courtesy of Taqueria Franco

It is something that has piqued the curiosities of many and awakened the tastes of many more all over the globe. But is authenticity always at its root and its end? Or is it the starting point of ever-changing, ever-growing forms of culinary expression?” Taquería Franco may not be serving the “authentic” taco, far from it, to say the least, creating their permutation of one has opened up a world of flavor-filled possibilities. Imagine the concept of tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas stuffed with something French. The idea is novel and the food is not only quite good… it is creative and satisfying!

A Story Of A Non-Mexican Taqueria
Steak frites taco/ Photo courtesy of Taqueria Franco

Miko was stressed about coming up with the actual tortilla. She didn’t want corn or plain flour because it would immediately have this comparison to Mexican places and they were not going for Mexican flavors. She says “A tortilla represents a vessel that can carry the weight of different flavors, combined. Since I am very drawn to French flavors, we arrived at a tortilla-galette situation made of fermented buckwheat and flour.”

Must-try Menu

RJ adds “Take a look at the menu from dishes to drinks and it’s a mash-up of many things. You’ll find foie gras on a tortilla and Granny Goose chips with garlic béchamel. The drinks menu has things like the Franco 75: our version of a French 75 but with tequila, black truffle, honey, and prosecco. Then there’s the Fig & The Goat which has figs, goat cheese, and gin. I like peachy drinks so there’s one called Lucky Pêche that combines peach with cognac and agave. Can’t do without wine, so there’s also Japanese natural wine on the menu.” Their cocktails are some of the most interestingly amazing drinks around the metro right now.

A Story Of A Non-Mexican Taqueria
Foie gras taco/ Photo courtesy of Taqueria Franco

Miko says “One of my favorite things is a birria, which is why you’ll see a Lamb Birria Taco on the menu: lamb bourguignon, mushrooms, Emmental, jus. I like that we can get a bit cheeky with what goes into our menu… for example, our pan-seared foie gras taco with chipotle-muscovado caramel and onion crisp or the egg salad tostada with caviar. I like the freedom that comes with just liking flavors that work together, and not being too tied down to making sure it’s this kind of cuisine or that kind of cuisine.”

A Story Of A Non-Mexican Taqueria
Lamb bourguignon birria/ Photo courtesy of Taqueria Franco

Miko describes the place as “grungy but neat. It leans towards being bunker chic, so it’s raw but with clean details and natural materials. It’s laid-back but not messy. It’s fun and chill, and we are going for that vibe because we want a different taquería experience. I’d like to think of it as an after-hours place in feel, which isn’t only open after-hours.”

Options For Everyone

Pescatarians need not fear as they have fabulous oyster and prawn tacos as well.

A Story Of A Non-Mexican Taqueria
Breaded oysters taco/ Photo courtesy of Taqueria Franco

So why was it called Taqueria Franco? RJ says there are two reasons- the smart one and the dumb one. One is that it is called Taqueria because the place serves food patterned after a taqueria and Franco because the filling is actually French. The other reason is that it was called “Franco” because they serve French tacos or Franco tacos. Go and figure out which is which.

Taquería Franco is located at G/F 130 LPL Center, San Agustin Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 4PM to 12AM. For inquiries, please visit www.taqueriafranco.com.

Banner photo courtesy of Taqueria Franco.

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