Without stepping foot in Mexico, the people of Frankfort now have access to authentic Mexican street food.
Juan Garcia said he goes to Mexico two to three times a year. During every visit, he is sure to eat some street food. Garcia wanted to bring high-quality Mexican street food back to Frankfort. Thus, Tacos & Tortas became a reality, at 172 Versailles Road.
“When people think Mexican food, they just think tacos, burritos and quesadillas,” Garcia said.
He said Mexican cuisine includes much more than that. At TT’s, customers can expect high quality food, homemade salsas, traditional tacos and tortas (Mexican-style sandwiches).
“If you’re talking about Mexican street food — burritos, tacos, tortas. I think the spot in Frankfort is TTs. It was made to provide the best tacos and tortas.”
It is different from a typical Mexican restaurant because it isn’t a sit-down restaurant. At TT’s, more work goes into speed than presentation.
“With Mexican street food, you put more intention into quicker service, trying to have people in and out because it’s street food,” Garcia said.
So far, the most popular food at TT’s is the taco al pastor.
“It is our marinated pork. We put it in our rotisserie, and it roasts from the outside to the inside,” Garcia said.
The meat is shaved and can be put into tacos, burritos, quesadillas or tortas. The meat comes with cilantro, onion and pineapple.
To go along with a meal, TT’s also serves beer, margaritas, aguas frescas — Tamarind, Jamaica and Horchata — fountain drinks and Jarritos — a Mexican soda. For dessert, customers can get churros with ice cream.
TT’s is a family owned business.
“There are actually three families involved with it — the Herreras, Garcias and Gaonas,” Garcia said.
TTs head chef is a member of the Gaona family — Israel Gaona.
The families also own Pollo Bandido, Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant and Rosa Mexicano Super Mercado. Pollo Bandido is a Mexican barbecue restaurant on Main Street. Traditional Mexican food is served at Garcia’s on Brighton Park Boulevard. Rosa Mexicano Super Mercado is a grocery store that serves Mexican products.
“We thought outside the box. Why open up a store in a different city? Why not invest in our community, to try to create more jobs and opportunities for people?” Garcia said.
Garcia said the families play a large part in keeping the restaurants going.
“All of us play a part, generations, everything from grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. Everyone has a part,” Garcia said.
In Juan Garcia’s home state of Jalisco, Mexico, the authentic margarita is made with Mexico’s popular soda Jarritos and tequila, and is called the Paloma.
“That’s the traditional margarita,” Garcia said.
This recipe calls for mandarin flavored Jarritos, which offers the drink a refreshing kick.
“It has a fizz to it, which makes it a refreshing summer drink,” he said. “Good for being on the Kentucky river.”
2 ounces Degollado tequila
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Pinch of salt
A lime slice for garnish
Jarritos mandarin flavored soda
Fill a 10-ounce glass with ice, and add Degollado tequila, lime juice, and pinch of salt.
Top with Jarritos mandarin soda and garnish with a slice of lime.
For a taste of authentic Mexican street food, Tacos and Tortas co-owner Juan Garcia recommends the al pastor, an open-faced taco topped with tender, roasted pork, pineapple and other spices.
“The way it’s being roasted — outside to inside — makes the pork nice and juicy,” Garcia said.
This 100-year-old recipe comes from Rogelio Herrera from Michoacán, Mexico, Garcia said.
“We wanted to bring authentic recipes to Kentucky,” Garcia said. “Being the state capital, there should be more diversity.
“This is authentic Mexican street food.”
The following is a recipe to make the Al Pastor using a slow cooker.
Recipe makes about 8 cups of al pastor
For the Spice Mix:
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon chipotle powder
For the Pork Shoulder:
1 pineapple, skin on and ends trimmed
3½ pounds pork shoulder or butt, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 dried guajillo chile
1 small yellow onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup white vinegar
Flaky sea salt, to taste
12 corn tortillas
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges
In a large bowl, whisk together the spice mix ingredients. Stand the pineapple up on one end and, using a large knife, slice off the skins into 2-inch-wide strips.
Rinse three to four strips and set aside. Halve the pineapple widthwise. Core and dice one pineapple half into ½-inch pieces and slice the remaining pineapple half into ¼-inch rounds.
Add the pork shoulder to the spice mix and toss to coat evenly, then transfer to the slow cooker. Add the diced pineapple, guajillo, onion and garlic. Add the chicken stock and white vinegar, and top with the reserved pineapple peels, cut-sides down.
Turn the slow cooker to high and cook until the meat easily pulls apart with a fork, 5 to 5½ hours.
Serve with the pineapple rounds, tortillas, cilantro and lime wedges.