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La Taqueria Is Open at Last

After a "ten-month rollercoaster" with the city

by Sabine Bickford

From the July, 2018 issue

"We couldn't even keep the windows clean," says Mark Messmore, the general manager of the recently opened La Taqueria Ann Arbor. "People kept pressing their faces up against them."

The nose pressers had a good reason. For ten months, La Taqueria sat at the high-traffic corner of Liberty and Main, seemingly ready to open any day. The interior was complete, the cash register out, the neon "tacos on tacos on tacos" sign hung (unlit) in the window, but the place looked vacant from the sidewalk.

Messmore's mother Cynthia signed the lease for the old Maize and Blue Deli spot last year. In preparation for their new restaurant, which Mark calls a "family effort," she and her son made a number of what he deems "cosmetic changes" like painting and hanging artwork.

"We thought everything was ready to go," says Messmore. But then they called the city to say, "'hey, we're looking to open up this weekend,' and they were like, 'oh no, you're not at all. Nothing is done, nothing is permitted, a lot's been changed, and we don't have any of that information.'"

Instead of opening in time for the 2017 art fair, he says, they found themselves on "a ten-month rollercoaster" of submitting and resubmitting blueprints to the city, followed by the additional work required to get the new changes up to code.

Messmore says he is relieved and excited to finally be open. Though the liquor license is still a work in progress, the restaurant is built around a large modern bar. The interior is minimalist-cool: white walls, stainless steel tables, and a few pieces of artwork (nearly all taco-themed).

The menu is what Messmore describes as "fusion craft tacos," featuring influences from North America, South America, and Asia. He makes no claims about the authenticity of his cuisine but instead encourages people to try something new: "I think there are really good authentic Mexican places in town, so that's not what we were trying to do."

La Taqueria Ann Arbor, 106 E. Liberty. (734) 369-6922. Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight.     (end of article)

[Originally published in July, 2018.]


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