An interview at Tacos El Kaiser, with El Kaiser himself
By Carolina Adams
This is the writer’s personal account. She was not sponsored or paid to say such nice things—she just really loves these tacos!
“The flavor, the taste, the freshness, in spite of limitations.”El Kaiser
I grew up in Colorado, USA eating Mexican food at every opportunity. I can easily say it is my favorite cuisine. Upon moving to Europe, I was introduced to an extravagant culinary world with flavors from around the globe, but North American cuisine was hard, if not impossible, to find. That is, until I was told about Tacos El Kaiser.
The minute I walked in, I was entranced by the smells, the kindness of the staff, the Mexican music, and the fun tchotchkes, including an unexpected US Army placard hanging from the ceiling. I would gleefully enter the restaurant every time because I knew that there would be something new and interesting on the menu that I hadn’t experienced before, even in the USA. So far, I’ve tried flautas, birria, picadillo, barbacoa, tinga, and every flavor of margarita they make. I haven’t found a single thing on their menu that isn’t melt-in-your-mouth, change-your-life delicious.
I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and talk with El Kaiser himself about how he and his wife opened Tacos El Kaiser, about his experiences, and what the future holds for the restaurant. To say I’m truly in awe of the experiences of the restaurant is an absolute understatement.
El Kaiser grew up in South West California, Texas, and Arizona, which is where he met his wife. Although with no formal background as a restaurateur, his upbringing gave him the motivation and the sense of community that he wanted to create in his restaurant. El Kaiser‘s mom would always make flour tortillas from scratch and which he loved to eat with beans and cheese. To this day, his favorite food on the menu is the beans and cheese. He also grew up hosting carne asada nights with his friends and neighbors. Everyone would bring something to share and all would chip in for the meat which was barbecued in the backyard every Friday night as a community. It became a routine which eventually made its way to Nuremberg, too, where El Kaiser still loves to make carne asada in the Biergarten.
With no formal chef training, but a love of food, flavors, and Mexican street food, El Kaiser worked hard for the two months before the restaurant opened to create a menu that would ensure that every item of food was the best it could be. El Kaiser ended up creating a menu with a gastro-Mexican street food style cuisine, even “calling Mexico” and asking for help because he wanted to “represent an unfiltered, straight from the source, Mexican street food.” He wanted to create a place with no frills, no gimmicks, and a truly Mexican taqueria experience.
El Kaiser worked long and hard and put thought into everything, including his very distinctive logo. People may recognize the Mexican sugar skull and then notice that it’s wearing a helmet and has a lovely mustache. He made the decision to add the helmet as a nod to Kaiser Wilhelm II who wore the same type of helmet into battle. As for the mustache, not only did Kaiser Wilhelm also sport a groovy mustache, many Mexicans had almost the same type of mustache at the time of Kaiser Wilhelm! In addition to this homage, El Kaiser named the restaurant Tacos El Kaiser so people would know that the taqueria had the best tacos around.
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The original Tacos El Kaiser opening date was 20th March 2020. Unfortunately, because of the lockdown, Tacos El Kaiser was never given the opportunity for a Grand Opening. The goal of the menu had been to introduce Germans and the people in the area to good gastro-Mexican street food, but he knew that most people hadn’t experienced an authentic food style. El Kaiser had planned to use the grand opening and the subsequent time to teach people how to eat the food and how to order and enjoy what he cooked. When the lockdown started, he had no other choice but to re-write the menu in a way that anyone could eat however they chose to eat. He started with taco plates, including beans and cheese, and rewrote the menu in a number of days.
While the original grand opening did not go completely according to plan, El Kaiser had a phenomenal team to help him in the opening months including two lovely men and a woman from Mexico. Alejandro Vega and Juan Pablo were recruited from the same factory in Mexico and Erika joined the duo working tirelessly and diligently to make Tacos El Kaiser the best it could be. Alejandro Vega in particular was one of the founding members, a real charro (Mexican cowboy) who never needed instructions and was always happy to help. He used to rope cows and do tournaments in Mexico and upon returning to Mexico even won 2nd place in the national tournament in Mexico. You’ll see all of them in the pictures in the big room to the left of the counter. In the center of the picture frame is Alexandro Vega. Unfortunately and tragically, he passed away six months after returning home to Mexico in a work-related accident. He is fondly remembered by El Kaiser and will forever be pictured in the restaurant.
With this team, Tacos El Kaiser survived the pandemic. Expats came to try the new Mexican street taqueria in town and fell in love for all the reasons Tacos El Kaiser intended. Now, the staff is made up of a wonderful group of people from lots of Latin countries, including a retired school teacher from Peru, a writer who is working on a novel, a chemist with a master’s in cultural studies, a driver who does nursing house calls, and a wonderful house spouse. These glorious individuals are competing with the best of the best and are doing a phenomenal job.
The restaurant has grown slowly but consistently and El Kaiser changes the menu all the time based on what is in season, what is available, and how he is feeling. They make fresh salsa every week using fresh and dried ingredients, the tomatillos are from Mexico and are so worth it, and everything on their menu is as locally sourced as possible unless there’s a reason for it not to be. I, Carolina, particularly appreciate that the to-go containers are biodegradable or recyclable as often as they can be. El Kaiser is a self-proclaimed hippie in disguise so it’s important to him that he keeps up the conservationist effort.
They were even invited to be part of the Latin Festival in June and sold out by 3pm on the Saturday. He needed to go back to the restaurant and prepare more ingredients as fast as possible so that the taqueria would be able to feed people through the entire three-day festival! He ended up selling nearly 3000 tacos at the festival and hopes to do more events!
In all honesty, author to reader, these tacos are some of the best I’ve ever had in my life. I actively watch their Instagram to see what specials they have and I always walk out with tacos and a margarita. They also sell Mexican food and drink options they’ve brought in from Mexico including several cervezas (beers), hot sauces, canned jalapeños and salsas, and sweet treats!
Come for the food, come back for more food, drink a margarita, say hi to El Kaiser and look out for exciting news in the coming weeks!
This article is written in American English.