From tequila country

La Taqueria set to open this month in the former Blockbuster Video building on 17th Avenue

Buzz_LaTaqueria-Luis+Valeria Melendez_021518.jpg

Siblings Luis and Valeria Melendez, owners of La Taqueria, which is set to open soon on 17th Avenue.

Luis and Valeria Melendez, sibling owners of the soon-to-open La Taqueria on the west side of Wausau, have been involved in the restaurant business all their lives. That goes way back to when Luis lived in Mexico’s Jalisco region, which is renowned as tequila country.

So when they say the food will be truly authentic Mexican cuisine, it’s probably a safe bet. La Taqueria is slated to open later this month at 520 S. 17th Ave.—the building that once housed Blockbuster Video and more recently Family Treasures consignment store (which relocated to W. Stewart Avenue about a year ago).

Luis was born in the Jalisco region and later grew up in the San Francisco Bay area with his sister Valeria, and both made frequent trips to Mexico. The Melendez’ family is still involved in the restaurant industry and their uncles to this day run taco stands in Mexico.

“It’s that street food, with tacos and certain drinks,” Valeria says. “It’s very traditional, what you would find on street corners or at markets.”

Many of the recipes were passed down through the family, and some of them came directly from their uncles in Mexico who are serving them today. Think menudo (soup with cow intestines), alambre (grilled beef topped with a variety of items) or carne asada fries, to give a quick sample of dishes.

Those will be paired with a variety of drinks prepared from fresh fruit, some of which will take advantage of the liquor license the restaurant obtained last year.

The menu isn’t the only thing getting minute attention to details. The brother and sister spent a considerable amount remodeling the building with Aztec-style décor (the art painted by Luis himself) and barn door wood accents from Merrill-based Woodsconsin. The kitchen is specifically an open concept one, similar to Thrive’s, in which diners can see the food as it’s being made. The restaurant will also feature a patio for summer outdoor dining. Big changes to the exterior will be a welcome scenic upgrade to the cement cube the building has been for many years.

All that is to create the right atmosphere, which Luis says will cater to a variety of diners—from those who want to grab food quick and move on, to those who want to stay and eat tacos, drink margaritas and watch the soccer game on TV. “If you’re into soccer and there’s an obscure game you want to watch, you can see it here,” Luis says.

The goals is to create an authentic Mexican restaurant experience that’s often available in bigger cities but not as much in central Wisconsin, Valeria says. When college students return home from living in bigger cities, Valeria says, they will find that authentic experience they had access to while away. Check out La Taqueria on Facebook.