Guadalajara Grill and Chef Solís: The rhythm of cooking

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Guadalajara Grill del Sur has been serving Taoseños for about 22 years. The restaurant opened its doors on Nov. 17, 1995. Brothers Martin Solís and the late Federico Solís were the original founders. Ignacio Solís, another brother, is now also a co-owner.

"We are from Guadalajara, Jalisco," said Ignacio Solís. "The family culinary tradition started with a taco stand that my dad owned. See, he raised 14 children with the help of [the] famous Taquería Don Pedro!"

Even today, when the family goes back to Guadalajara, people welcome them by saying, "Here come the taqueros."

The family is from Teocuitatlán, a town in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The town is featured in a mural that covers an entire restaurant wall. The Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl, a feathered serpent, is also depicted there.

"Mexico is our motherland, and although we are very happy here, we don't forget where we came from," said Solís.

Other siblings are also involved in the business. Armida Solís is a manager at Guadalajara Grill del Sur and Pedro Solís shares his time between this establishment and Guadalajara Grill del Norte, owned and managed by Francisco and David Solís.

"Guadalajara Grill del Sur was the first restaurant we owned, then we had another in Santa Fe that closed later - and the third was the one on Paseo del Pueblo Norte, which has been opened for 18 years," said Ignacio Solís. "We are proud to have been part of the Taos culinary scene for so long and want to thank all our loyal patrons who have kept up in business."

'Nacho, the Chef'

At the restaurant, everybody knows Ignacio Solís as "Nacho, the Chef."

He can do "everything that needs to be done in the kitchen," he says, but his favorite foods are sauces and tacos that remind him of his late father.

"My dad died very young, when he was 49 years old," he said. "He didn't get to see any of this, but I think he would be proud to know that we all follow in his footsteps."

The chef's favorite cooking instrument is the grill.

"You can cook everything and it allows you to 'catch the rhythm' and focus on what you're doing," he said. "The best thing about cooking is that it can be done at your own rhythm. Cooking is like playing music, pues."

Among his favorite dishes is the tapatío, a rib-eye steak that comes with six grilled shrimps.

"It's a traditional Jalisco dish," he says.

Members of the Solís family have lived for more than three decades in the United States and they are proud of their adopted country. They plan to celebrate the Fourth of July as enthusiastically as they do on Sept. 16, Independence Day in Mexico.

"We have two motherlands: Mexico and the United States," Solís said. "This is a beautiful thing. Now, we are living our American dream. So we will throw a bicultural party with hamburgers and, of course, Mexican dishes, too. Come celebrate the Fourth with us!"

The chef and his wife, Guadalupe Solís, have four children.

"Ah, but she's the one who cooks at home," he said with a smile.

Teamwork

Solís says that the Guadalajara Grill team works "very well together." He wants to thank all the restaurant's employees for their effort and commitment. Between the two restaurants, the Solís family employs about 40 people in Taos.

The chef does a little of everything. He is a one-man band who works in the kitchen, as well as the cash register or wherever he is needed.

"A few days ago, we were super busy and I was jumping from the cash register to the kitchen to help there," he tells me. "A customer later told me that he was very impressed with it. I do it willingly so that my employees know that I am here to support them."

Ignacio Escobar has been working at Guadalajara Grill del Sur for more than 17 years. He is also originally from Jalisco.

"The [Solíses] are very good employers," he said. "I remember when the business started. It was quite small then and it has been a pleasure to see it grow. I also love to see the happy faces of the people who come to eat here."

Among these happy clients is Lucita Ocañas, who goes every Wednesday after work and orders camarón al mojo de ajo (shrimp sautéed with fresh garlic, lime juice and chile caribe), accompanied by a very cold horchata with sugar and vanilla.

"They sell the yummiest, freshest shrimp here," she said. "But I also like the 'taco plate,' which comes with rice and beans. I really recommend anything on the menu because you can't go wrong with anything."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorectly stated the names of Pedro and Martin Solís.

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