If you were a fan of the Netflix competition show "The Final Table," you will likely recognize the visage of chef Esdras Ochoa. The Mexican chef runs Mexicali Taco & Co. in Los Angeles and this week he and his partners will add to Austin’s growing modern Mexican scene with Reunión 19.
The taqueria owned by Esdras and Los Angeles friends chef Christopher Haydostian, mixologist Daniel Eun, and Charlie Tsai opens Friday at 1700 East Second St. in the space previously occupied by Gotham.
Haydostian, who previously worked as the executive chef at St. David’s Health Care and various restaurants in Las Vegas, will serve as the executive chef at Reunión 19 and says the inspiration for the taqueria came from Austin’s lack of the kind of tacos that he grew up eating in Los Angeles.
The casual restaurant, which will serve lunch and dinner daily, features a menu full of West Coat interpretations of Mexican cuisine, with options like ahi tuna with smoked fish black bean tapenade and avocado on a tostadita; aguachile with Argentinian prawn, serrano harissa, avocado, and chiltepin; beer-battered fish tacos, and patatas a la French—carne asada French fries with aji verde. The cocktail menu will lean heavily on mezcal and tequila creations. The chefs also plan to introduce more global flavors to the menu this summer, with inspiration from Korea to Armenia.
The taqueria will not be Ochoa’s first move outside of the Los Angeles market; he has also opened 11 Westside in Hong Kong and Sancho’s in Mumbai. Ochoa, who was a semifinalist on the Netflix competition show hosted by newly minted Austinite Andrew Knowlton, intends to host visiting guest chefs from around the world for special dinners.