From Ribs to Tacos
Tmaz takes Aamani's west-side spot.
From the February, 2021 issue
Tmaz Taqueria Dexter is in Ann Arbor, not Dexter. But it is on Dexter Ave., hidden away behind the Wolverine Party Shoppe just west of Maple Rd.
It's the second Tmaz location for Cesar Hervert and his wife, Ana Trinidad. They opened quietly in 2011 in a space on Packard so tiny it only had two tables. The following year, they took the larger space next door for a produce and grocery store, and in 2015 they pushed through the walls to create one big space for their growing taqueria and panaderia (restaurant and bakery).
Hervert explained at the time that Tmaz was named in honor of Ana's hometown of Temascalcingo, Mexico, better known to locals as Tmaz. Pre-pandemic, the restaurant bustled with customers enjoying tacos, enchiladas, and hearty beef stew, while the bakery did a brisk business making tres leches cakes for birthdays and desserts such as flan.
Last fall, Hervert heard from a friend that Aamani's Smokehouse & Pizzeria on Dexter would not be reopening. Aaron Wiess, a much-traveled chef, had won some devoted followers at the Observer office by adding daily specials like jambalaya to predecessor Little Porky's 'pizza-and-ribs foundation, but apparently he couldn't weather the pandemic shutdown.
Hervert spent two months renovating the place and opened right after the new year. The lineup on Dexter echoes, but does not completely replicate, its Packard parent.
"The deal is for me to have two locations and cover it the best that I can," Hervert says. Each morning, he helps Ana and their adult children open on Packard, then drives across town to run the new place through closing time.
He's not deterred by restrictions forced by Covid-19. "I like it because it's very small, and it's very, very convenient for us" to operate, he says.
The Dexter menu offers about 80 percent of what he sells on Packard. West-'siders will not get to sample his flatbread pupusas or the popular soup he offers at the original location.
the new location came with a fryer. That gives him the chance to sell dishes with fried tortillas, such as flautas (rolled tortillas that are filled and fried) and chilaquiles (fried tortillas simmered in salsa and topped with ingredients like eggs, cheese, and beans).
Hervert plans to buy equipment to make his tortillas in-house and also expects to get a cooler, so that he can offer cold drinks and desserts.
He says he'll be updating the decor to make it look more Mexican and hopes that he can someday obtain a liquor license covering both restaurants.
In mid-January, he hadn't yet listed the menu for Tmaz Taqueria Dexter on his website but was offering delivery from Grubhub.
There are about a dozen seats inside that will be available once restrictions are removed, and Hervert says there's a patio on the property that he hopes to use for outdoor dining. "I definitely want to have it," he says.
Tmaz Taqueria Dexter, 2529 Dexter Ave., (734) 780-7225. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Sun. 'houseofthemexicanfood.com
[Originally published in February, 2021.]
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