Let’s taco ’bout Pepe – heart of Taqueria
It’s 8:14 am and I’m late to Taqueria, where we were supposed to meet up with Pepe, because let’s just say that I’m not a morning person. I need my cup of coffee and a slap in the face to bring me to life at this time. Knocking on the door of Taqueria, located in Rotermanni, the always-developing area packed with other culinary gems. No answer. “I guess he is not a morning person as well.” Couple of seconds later, Pepe swiftly moves towards the door, unlocks it and greets me with “Tere hommikust!” accompanied with the biggest smile I have seen a person can project on a regular working day morning.
Adjusting with the Latin flavours
He welcomes me into the restaurant, which is cozy with its sofas and rustic with wooden tables and decorations at the same time. We continue on to the kitchen, where Pepe is preparing the dish of the day – pasta Roja Mexicana, a spicier version of pasta bolognese originating from the Italians. Though, preparing a Mexican pasta, Pepe himself is Peruvian and has been living in Estonia for 24 years, almost since the very beginning of our re-independence! Having worked at another famous restaurant in Tallinn, Argentiina, Pepe has brought and slowly inserted some real Latin-American flavours to our rather mild taste-buds. He says that it is important to adjust with the preferences of local people and choose the right level of spiciness. For that, he also has an extra-extra-extra hot sauce on the top shelf, which I quickly put back down as a boy who was grown up on potatoes and sour cream.
Personal touch is something that would charactarises him. Stepping outside the kitchen, talking with the customers, asking for their preferences and comments on the food is something common for Pepe to do. “Cooking is a social activity – you talk, you laugh, you joke around, at the same time, always keeping an eye on the food.” And he did. Even when I was bombarding him with questions, such as which is his favourite Estonian movie of all time, he was stirring the sauce of the pasta, chopping ingredients and preparing to make tacos. Oh, and his favourite Estonian movies are “Kevade” and “Nukitsamees”.
Time for the food!
The pasta sauce is ready and he let’s me to try it out. It tastes a-ma-zing. But honestly, as the name of Taqueria implies, I came here for tacos and Pepe won’t let me go before I have tried them. Tacos are a typical Mexican food, composed of a tortilla folded around a filling including beef/pork/seafood/vegetables with some cheese and cilantro on top. The varieties are numerous and taco is actually what we would consider a typical sandwich – a fast, yet a filling bite!
He adds the meat, salsa, chopped jalapenos and tops it off with cheese, which he burns on top, adding a smoky flavour. And they were divine! Juicy and delicious. I remembered once again why I like Mexican food so much. Having character in the spices, yet simple and filling. Before I go, I want to ask him for a place where he would go out for dining. “Controvento – they put their hearts into the food they make, just like I always do.” Beautifully put, thanks for the tacos and great talk, Pepe!
Want to try out the magical tacos that Pepe makes?
Order them from Taqueria to your doorstep or go on the spot. Thursday’s are fish days – try out the fish tacos!
Monday-Thursday, Sunday 11:30-22:00
Friday, Saturday 11:30-01:00