10 things you need to know about the Puesto restaurant chain on its 10th anniversary

In February 2012, a group of local Mexican American cousins ​​opened their first Puesto restaurant in downtown La Jolla, with the goal of serving upscale Mexican-style tacos and other all-protein dishes. natural and homemade blue corn tortillas. salsas and other gourmet condiments and toppings.

The idea was a success, and today Puesto — a Spanish word for “stand,” as in the taco stand — is a fast-growing business with locations in cities and baseball diamonds all over the country. State.

Co-founder Eric Adler said the company’s success has far exceeded his family’s expectations.

“It’s truly a blessing to feed so many people in San Diego. It’s our community, and it’s very special that we’re here and part of it,” he said.

To celebrate the company’s first decade, we asked Adler and Lidiya Harvey, director of brand strategy for Puesto, about 10 things every San Diego taco lover should know about Puesto.

Partners of Puesto Isi Lombrozo, left, Moy Lombrozo, Eric Adler, Alan Adler and Alexander Adler. Behind them stands the founding chef of Puesto, Luisteen Gonzalez.

(Vitaly Manzouk)

Mexican roots

Brothers Eric, Alan and Alexander Adler grew up in Chula Vista and La Jolla eating Mexican food every day with their parents, whose families moved to California from the Mexican cities of Guadalajara and Monterrey. After graduating from business school on the east coast, Eric Adler said he returned home with a deep craving for delicious Mexican food, which he and his brothers discovered at high-end taco nights. organized by chef Luisteen Gonzalez. Along with their cousins, Isi and Moy Lombrozo, the Adler brothers pitched the idea for a restaurant to Gonzalez, who only agreed to come on board if he could focus on the cooking and leave the business details to them.

Five varieties of tacos at Puesto, specializing in Mexican-style tacos.

Five varieties of tacos at Puesto, specializing in Mexican-style tacos.

(Anne Watson)

18 million tacos and counting

The hallmark of Puesto’s Mexico-inspired tacos — the company has sold 18.3 million since 2012 — is their dedication to authentic, gourmet ingredients, such as lamb barbacoa, short rib quesabirria, mushrooms braised seasonal fish, four varieties of guacamole and blue corn tortillas made fresh all day at each location. The signature ingredient of many tacos is the “costra”, a thin crepe of hot, crispy melted cheese in which the vegetables and proteins are wrapped before being rolled on the tortilla. Harvey said Puesto has sold so many tacos over the past decade that if placed end to end, they would stretch from here to Mexico City.

Puesto Mission Valley + Cerveceria.

Puesto Mission Valley + Cerveceria.

(Jose Lopez)

grow and grow

Today, Puesto has nine restaurants in San Diego, Orange County and the Bay Area. He also has several booths at Petco Park in San Diego and Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco. Adler said he and his siblings and cousins ​​are all sports enthusiasts, so they would like to explore more stadiums, which exposed a whole new dining audience to their brand. They are also looking for other restaurants, especially in North San Diego County, which does not yet have puesto.

Puesto's head brewer, Doug Hasker, holds his award-winning dark beer Puesta Negra.

Puesto’s head brewer, Doug Hasker, holds his Puesto Negra dark beer, which won a silver medal last year at the Great American Beer Festival.

(Puesto)

Award winning brewer

The owners of Puesto are all beer lovers. So when Gordon Biersch decided to close his Mission Valley restaurant and brewery in 2019, they jumped at the chance to lease the property and produce their own Mexican lagers. Well-respected Gordon Biersch head brewer, Doug Hasker, agreed to stay at the new Puesto + Cerveceria (brewery) site and worked with the Adler brothers’ uncle to develop three authentic Mexican lagers: Clara, Negra and Amber. After entering the beers in the 2021 Great American Beer Festival competition, Hasker warned the Puesto team not to expect any medals. A new brewer can take years to break through. But in September, Puesto’s Negra lager won a silver medal. In addition to serving its own beers, including a special new 10th anniversary beer, at all of its restaurants, Puesto cans them for Petco Park customers.

Beau de Bois, creative director of the Puesto bar and spirits, tries out some of the restaurant's 117 tequilas.

Puesto Bar and Spirits Creative Director Beau de Bois reviews some of the 117 tequilas sold at Puesto restaurants.

(Anne Watson)

As part of the company’s commitment to all-natural ingredients, Puesto is moving towards a policy of serving only tequilas with no artificial ingredients. Mexican regulators require that 99% of bottled tequila be pure agave spirits, leaving 1% for distillers to add artificial flavors and other enhancers. Beau du Bois, the creative director of the Puesto bar and spirits, is working to develop a tequila program with only 100% pure agave spirits by 2023 or 2024. Currently, the Puesto bar menu includes 117 varieties of tequila.

Ceviche in Puesto.

Ceviche in Puesto.

(Puesto)

Michelin Recognition

Since the publication of the first Michelin guide to all of California in 2019, Puesto has been awarded a Michelin plaque. A Michelin inspector wrote of Puesto: “The cuisine here has a subdued heat that emphasizes the fresh, crisp flavors of Mexico, beginning with the sheer enjoyment of thin, crispy fries and fire-roasted salsa. . Arrive during happy hour to fully understand their margarita mastery. In addition, several Puesto staff members have worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, including du Bois (Meadowood Napa Valley), culinary director Erik Aronow (Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Beverly Hills), operations manager Dylan Shipsey (Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality in New York).

Puesto's filet mignon taco is the chain's top-selling menu item.

Puesto’s filet mignon taco is the chain’s top-selling menu item.

(Anne Watson)

Seller #1

Since 2013, Puesto’s Filet Mignon Taco has been the top-selling item on its menu. The marinated tenderloin is served in a costra (crispy wrap of melted cheese) with avocado and the secret ingredient of spicy pistachio serrano salsa on a blue corn tortilla. The No. 2 seller, the Maine lobster taco, has been temporarily removed from the menu, since Harvey said the price of hard-to-get New England shellfish has skyrocketed 300% since the start of the pandemic. Adler’s favorite menu item is the Chicken Al Pastor taco, which he calls a good “combination of spicy and sweet.” It was the taco that sold him the idea of ​​opening a restaurant with Chef Gonzalez ten years ago.

Cocktails in Puesto.

Cocktails in Puesto.

(Anne Watson)

Draw the line on the limes

Because du Bois doesn’t like to buy bottled fruit juice for Puesto cocktails, only fresh, hand-squeezed limes are used at all locations. How many limes? More than 4,500 a day, or 137,600 a month, Harvey said. The company has installed industrial-grade Zumex juicers at all sites to give bartenders a break.

Sustainable Sourcing

The company’s menu offers transparency about its protein sourcing, such as humanely raised Jidori chicken, all-natural pork from Salmon Creek Farms, line-caught fish and wild-caught shrimp. The company has also committed to zero waste in its restaurants to compost food waste and reduce the use of unnecessary packaging.

During the pandemic, Puesto hosted Zoom industry support dinners, providing free meals to struggling hospitality workers.

During the pandemic, Puesto hosted Zoom industry support dinners, providing free meals to struggling hospitality workers.

(Puesto)

$1 million in donations

Over the years, Puesto has donated more than $1 million to local and national charities, and provided meals to hospitality and frontline workers during the pandemic. Charities served include La Jolla Little League, Surfrider Foundation, Toys for Tots and Autism Speaks. “Restaurants are nothing without a community. That’s why we’ve always been involved in hyper-local events here,” Adler said.

About Vivian J. Smith

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