If you have spent a Friday evening at Los Tarascos enjoying authentic Mexican food, you may have noticed our chef, Maria Caballero, step out of the kitchen to scan the restaurant, ensuring her customers are enjoying the food she lovingly prepared. “I cook with my heart, with the same love that I cook for my family. I put all my heart, all my flavor, all my love into my food. That is who we are,” says Maria.
Los Tarascos has always been about serving fresh, Mexican food, drawing inspiration from the heart of Michoacan, Mexico, the home roots for the Caballero family. With a commitment to authenticity and quality over profit, the Caballeros have always instilled customer satisfaction and excellence as the heartbeat of Los Tarascos.
At a young age, Maria learned to love more than cooking, she acquired the love for the cooking process with her family around her. Maria discovered her culinary creativity from her grandmother who would take her to the market to handpick each herb, potato, and tomato added to their dishes. She learned to cook with what they had and relied on trading and bartering as a means to get ingredients for meals. Rice for pork. Cabbage for sugar. Maria perfected her use of Mexican spices as a young girl, and today the recipes at Los Tarascos are those Maria made for her family in Michoacan. Maria believes creating authentic food with the best fresh products produces satisfied and loyal customers, which is the best way to build a successful restaurant.
Hugo and Maria Caballero moved to Fort Collins in 1995 with their eyes set on opening an authentic Mexican restaurant. At the time, Fort Collins was home to just six Mexican restaurants. After establishing their first location, they purchased equipment from local auctions and remodeled the space themselves, painting the walls and giving the space their own style.
Soon after opening, the Caballero’s realized the locals in Fort Collins wanted Mexican-style food they were used to...Tex-Mex. They were not used to the unique flavors, spices, and traditional Mexican dishes the Caballeros brought from Mexico. As the Caballeros received requests to change their menu to more familiar Tex-Mex dishes, Hugo and Maria stuck with what they knew: their roots and family recipes. They knew once people experienced their food, culture, and their family, they would understand.
Twenty-one years later, Los Tarascos is considered a staple for authentic Mexican dining in Old Town Fort Collins. When Los Tarascos opened, the Caballeros knew it would be challenging to educate people on what authentic Mexican food tasted like, but the challenge was worth it. There are now families who have been coming to Los Tarascos for decades. Los Tarascos has always been family-owned and is now managed by Hugo and Maria’s children, while they continue to cook and offer support in the kitchen.
Next time you are looking for food that takes you to another culture, come to Los Tarascos to be transported to the traditions of Michoacan, Mexico. Every flavor and spice is added with care to show you that to the Caballeros, you are family.
The Caballeros are entering their third decade in Fort Collins and it feels more at home than ever. They count it an honor to build a restaurant that gives the community an opportunity to experience the culture and food they first experienced in Mexico.