Durango Taqueria y Carniceria, off of North Dean Road, brings the taste and flavors of Mexico to the heart of Auburn.
Open since 2010, this family-owned and family-friendly restaurant serves authentic Mexican dishes such as torta cubana, camarones and culetas ahumadas. Connected to the restaurant is a carniceria mercado, a meat shop and market, which offers freshly cut meats, fresh produce and baked goods.
Jesús Santillanes, owner and chef of the Durango Taqueria y Carniceria, learned to cook from his mother and from having worked at other restaurants.
He was born in Durango, Mexico, hence the name of the restaurant, and he has brought a piece of his home to Auburn.
At the restaurant, each dish on the menu is in Spanish but includes an English translation of ingredients and what the dish includes. Santillanes’ favorite dish on the menu is carne asada, which is grilled steak with fresh onions, tomatoes and bell peppers and is served with rice, beans and flour tortillas.
At home, Santillanes said that he cooks what he serves in the restaurant.
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Spanish professor and senior lecturer at Auburn University, Kerri Muñoz said, “It is the most authentic food that my family has found in Auburn.”
She recommends the tacos carnitas.
Santillanes thinks Americanized Mexican food, or Tex-Mex, is wrong.
“I think they are wrong because they try to sell fake food,” said Santillanes. “It is not real Mexican food.”
He wants to create an understanding of what is authentic and culturally correct.
“The thing to do is to sell the real stuff,” Santillanes said. “People go to Mexico for vacation and order hard- shell tacos with ground beef and cheese, and they are surprised when that is not offered.”
Santillanes has noticed Auburn students at his restaurant, and he encourages patrons to try new things.
“People are scared to try some items on the menu, but people continue to come back,” Santillanes said.
But do not be afraid, chicken and cheese quesadillas are still a hot-commodity at Durango Taqueria y Carniceria.
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