El Garage sizzles up American dream

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El Garage sizzles up American dream
All photos by Kathy Chouteau.

By Kathy Chouteau

What started as a fly-by-night side hustle in a Richmond garage, has grown into a quesabirria taco behemoth with a central brick-and-mortar location.

El Garage has flourished in a few short years from its roots in the shadow of 23rd Street to a wildly popular Mexican oasis in downtown Richmond. Equipped with social media savvy and a tasty birra recipe, the eatery embodies the American dream: That with some serious elbow grease and business savvy, your dreams truly can take flight.

The restaurant is a labor of love by the Montano family, including sisters Viviana, Evelyn and Jennifer, along with their parents, Susana and Martin. It all started when the sisters wanted to help with the mortgage on their parents’ new home, noticed a dearth in birra tacos being sold locally and decided to start a pop up food stand in their garage and driveway.

The sisters got to work researching birra recipes online, combined one with their mother’s own recipe and started a home pop-up in late February 2019. Their newly minted quesabirria taco sold out the very first day.

Within a little over a year of selling out in the Montano’s driveway—coupled with becoming a social media sensation online—El Garage opened its first brick-and-mortar at 1428 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond. El Garage can also be found at various pop-ups, including Outside Lands, Great Notion Cali’s in Berkeley and various other spots.

Recently, the Standard stopped by to enjoy the eatery’s famed quesabirria taco during lunchtime in Richmond. Three tacos arrived with flavorful birria wrapped in crunchy tortillas and oozing with melty cheese—in a word, delish. The tacos were garnished with radishes, cucumbers and lime for $15 and can be ordered with beef birra consommé ($5) on the side for dipping.  

Aside from its famed quesabirrias, El Garage serves up a mouthwatering menu of shrimp taquitos ($14), birria grilled cheese ($15), flautas ($9) and many other options. Its hours of operation are 12-7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Learn more about the Mexican eatery here.

El Garage is currently hiring part time and full time cashiers and line cooks. Send your resume to [email protected].