When Steve Santana opened his taqueria dubbed Taquiza on Collins Avenue in 2014, he put Miami at the forefront of a new era of Mexican cuisine in the American mainstream. While those who hail from Central and South America had long known and enjoyed the delights of tortillas pressed from freshly made corn dough, Santana and a handful of chefs around the country introduced the ancient technique of nixtamalization, in which dried corn is turned into a soft dough, to the greater public.
But being what he calls "an innocent bystander" of his landlord's failing business, Santana was forced to close his South Beach stand midsummer and decamp to a larger location in North Beach. Now, the chef and his tacos are set to return south by the end of this year with a full-service restaurant and full liquor bar at Rock Hostel at 1351 Collins Ave., steps from Taquiza's original location.
"We've become really good at taking over kind of strange places most other people overlook," Santana says.
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The new Taquiza's menu will match that of its current North Beach location, which will remain open. At the moment it includes no fewer than a dozen tacos spanning familiar choices like al pastor ($3.50 each) and carne asada ($5 each) with more traditional Mexican tacos like braised beef tongue ($3.50) and adobo-seasoned dried grasshoppers ($3.50). Of course, there will also be Miami's best chips and guac, otherwise known as
The reopening of Taquiza is good news for the area. Though the city retains its status as a tourist mecca, about 117 storefronts are vacant in Miami Beach, according to a recent study cited by the Miami Herald. If South Beach is to retain any sort of character and allure, it'll be local entrepreneurs like Santana and Jeremy Ford of Stubborn Seed that help do it.
Taquiza. 1351 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. taquizatacos.com. Opening winter 2018.