Celebrating the stories behind the Mexican restaurants in southwest Detroit

Posted at 6:58 AM, Oct 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 12:10:56-04

(WXYZ) — For 18 years, Tacos El Caballo has sat near the corner of Springwells and Pershing in southwest Detroit.

It's a community staple serving, arguably, the best authentic tacos in town.

But becoming a community such a prized possession didn't come without hardships according to the owner Jose Badajoz.

He says 11 years ago on the same corner, in his same food truck a man tried to rob him.

“Me one shot here. They shot him down in the leg. They shot his brother. They tried to come in and rob the money they had made that night. Once they shot him, his brother was down. It was like he was covering himself and he died there," Badajoz said.

His brother's killer was never caught. Despite the tragedy, closing was not an option.

So here he remains, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

Perseverance is also what led the Vargas family to open La Jalisciense.

The family was forced to close their store in Mexico City because of threats of intimidation and violence. So they took the business plans to Detroit.

“We didn’t know what to expect so we are just going in blind,” Leslie Vargas said.

She said she cried every day for a year when her family moved from Mexico City to Michigan.

"I came here and I didn’t know no English. I think I knew water and bathroom that’s it,” she recalls.

But when her father purchased La Jalisciense and began selling traditional Mexican snacks, household staples, and cuisines, she started to feel settled in.

“It didn’t make us feel like we were that far from home even though we are so far," she said.

Now her hope is to create that same feeling of home to others.

“Cause it does it for me, so I know it does it for other people.”