When Taqueria La Macro first opened in early 2012, it was a proper hole-in-the-wall: a tiny restaurant with only a few tables and one serious specialty, tacos de trompo. Just a year later, the Northside taqueria had already become so popular that owner Saul Obregon found himself needing to expand. He'd already built a patio outside to accommodate a few more tables, but it wasn't enough. So he took over the lease of the shuttered convenience store next door and soon tripled the size of his dining room.
"It was like having a brand new restuarant," Obregon told me today when I went by to check out the new space, which had its grand opening last month. Along with the increased square footage came a full bar, a soda fountain, a pool table, big-screen TVs—all the extras Obregon had always wanted but never had room for. But it also came with additional rent, taxes, staff to train, and tables to fill during the restaurant industry's slow season between August and September.
Obregon managed to keep the restaurant busy with events, however, hosting everything from viewing parties for Texans games to boxing fans watching the recent Mayweather-Alvarez fight. And now, on Friday nights, he's celebrating the fall weather with old-school Mexican elote roasts in the parking lot.
"They can't afford barbecue pits in Mexico," Obregon explained, "so they roast the corn in wheelbarrows. It's the traditional way." He found a beautiful steel wheelbarrow to use, removed the wheels, and has been roasting corn the way they do back home in Monterrey.
Even if you don't make it out to La Macro's patio on Friday nights, you'll want to go explore the new expanded menu. Alongside its popular tacos de trompo—shaved from vertical spit of achiote-marinated pork slow-roasted with pineapple juice—and its famous trompi-burger, you can also now get the trompo meat on gorditas, sopes, and huaraches.
I tried a huarache today at lunch, and the thick corn masa base—shaped like a sandal, hence the name "huarache," meaning sandal in Spanish—was an ideal delivery vehicle for the slices of trompo, avocado, and tomatoes on top. With a few squirts of La Macro's hot sauce and some tangy crema, it made an excellent and very filling meal for only $5.
And even though Obregon is just now settling into his brand-new space, it may not be long before he has to expand again: Taqueria La Macro just won Best Breakfast Taco and Best Taqueria in the Houston Press's 2013 Best of Houston issue.