Victoria Elizondo.

Image: Marco Torres

Victoria Elizondo, one of Houston's rising star chefs, responsible for some of the city's tastiest Mexican food with a Politan Row counter operation, has been impacted considerably by Covid-19. Partly as a result of this, she announced Monday that she's leaving the Rice Village food hall and jumping into a food truck concept in the Heights.

Elizondo is chef-owner of Cochinita & Co., a Mexican concept that had a home at Politan over the last year. She said surviving at the food hall and in the area during the Covid-19 pandemic has been nearly impossible.

Elizondo said she lost about 80 percent of her regular revenue during the pandemic and had to let go of her staff. Consequently, she was doing everything alone, including buying ingredients, taking orders, cooking, cleaning, and running the business side of Cochinita & Co. On top of that, she found her concept hasn't been the best fit for the Rice Village audience and, well, an investor has offered her a new opportunity.

So, Elizondo will close Cochinita & Co. after service Saturday, and sometime around either the end of 2020 or in early 2021, she'll open a food truck called Cochi's Taqueria near Shepherd Drive and I-10.

With Cochi's, she plans on cooking up Mexican street food including plenty of tacos (including her cochinita pibil), sopes, tortas, and quesadillas. Breakfast tacos will also be on offer. Alongside the grub will be a coffee program headed by Guatemalan-sourced and Houston-roasted Apolonia Coffee. Beyond daily service, Elizondo hopes to host pop-up markets at the space.

Elizondo says she hopes to bring back Cochinita & Co.—which is really more about larger-format dishes like guisados (or stews)—as a standalone, full-service restaurant. That decision might still be a year or two away, and there's no rush since Elizondo has plenty going on. She's making tamales that'll soon be available for pickup at Henderson & Kane General Store in the Old Sixth Ward, and she maintains a catering operation. Other than that, she simply hopes to run a successful food truck that sources locally and stays true to herself.

"Other than El Topo, I don't know of any other taco food trucks that work with local producers," she says. "I hope to have the first female-owned taqueria on wheels ... at least that's locally sourced."

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