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Here’s Every Single Taco at Ditroit, Enrique Olvera’s Back-alley Taquería in DTLA Opening Today

8:27 AM PST on December 3, 2020

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]hree years after news broke of an Enrique Olvera taquería opening in Los Angeles, Ditroit is opening today at noon for take-out tacos, jarred salsas, paletas, and spiked aguas frescas. It is the most highly anticipated taco shop to open in Los Angeles in years and continues the evolution of the city’s Taco Life. With its private lot full of all the free parking in the world, its industrial feel hidden deep in the Arts District, it will be the next fine taco destination in downtown—pandemic restrictions and all.

“We want to be part of the conversation about Mexican food in L.A,” Olvera tells L.A. Taco. “We respect so much what has been happening in the city for decades and want to share our vision about what tacos can be here.” That vision is an unabashedly Mexican and engaging approach to the city’s official staple food, with a taco philosophy never before encountered in Los Angeles.

“The idea with Ditroit is to do more everyday tacos and keep it democratic,” says Ana Odermatt, the General Manager overseeing both Damian and Ditroit. The original idea for the concept located on the south side of Damian with its private entrance and outdoor space was originally to use all the bits and ends of anything not fit for Damian’s menu, emphasizing pristine cuts of raw seafood and plated presentations. But with L.A. County shutting down all outdoor dining due to the recent surge of positive cases in the city, Ditroit has become its own taco entity. 

Quesadilla de quesillo con epazote. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.

Odermatt tells L.A. Taco that the plan was not to open Ditroit so soon after Damian opened in October, but the outdoor dining shutdown forced them to change their strategy. The word “Ditroit” has nothing to do with the city in Michigan. It is a Mexican slang term used when something is located behind something (“detrás”). 

A fresh tortilla being pressed. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.
Heirloom corn from Mexico before being nixtamalized. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.

Jesus “Chuy” Cervantes, the Head Chef for both Damian and Ditroit, is the lead taco engineer behind the small opening menu. It will only have four tacos: a crispy swordfish flauta fried in rice bran oil topped with creme fraiche, queso fresco, avocado salsa; a mushroom barbacoa taco; acelga (swiss chard) and alubia bean taco; a suadero taco made with brisket and top round braised for six hours; a quesadilla with quesillo and epazote; a plant-based tamal filled with Olvera's famous mole negro, and Olvera’s namesake fresh corn esquite topped with a dollop of chicatana ant-infused mayonnaise. All the heirloom maize used at the restaurant for their house-nixtamalized tortillas and everything else is sourced through Masienda from Oaxaca. 

Acelga (swiss chard) and alubia bean taco. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.
Crisped-up suadero with guacachile (left). Mushroom barbacoa (right). Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.

The number one guiding principle of all of Ditroit’s modern tacos rooted in traditional Mexican recipes is that they all have “to taste, good-good...not just good,” according to Chuy. 

Olvera's famous esquite with chicatana (ant) mayonnaise. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.

“Any vegetable can be treated like a piece of meat; it’s all about building up the flavor with salsas, adobos, asiento. There are ways to make anything taste good, whether it is a radish or piece of suadero.” 

Jesus "Chuy" Cervantes in the kitchen preparing for opening day. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.

As a border town kid from Texas, Chuy tells L.A. Taco that Enrique Olvera was “[his] Michael Jordan growing up” and a big reason he got into cooking and focusing on Mexican food. Ditroit and Damian is the first Enrique Olvera restaurant where Chuy is in control of the kitchen. He worked his way up to the position after starting as a line cook at Cosme, Olvera’s first restaurant in the U.S. opened in New York.

Spiked and non-spiked aguas frescas by Jun Kwon. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.
A plant-based taco and a michelada at Ditroit. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.

The aguas frescas, bottled cocktails, and ultra-savory michelada also adhere to Olvera’s philosophy of maximizing flavor using traditional Mexican ingredients. The drink menu is overseen by Jun Kwon, who also moved to Los Angeles to open the restaurant after working at Cosme in New York, along with Odermatt and Chuy. The palo santo and yuzu agua fresca is tailormade for the Arts District demographic. 

Paletas and the churro at Ditroit. Photo by Erwin Recinos for L.A. Taco.

Desserts will feature a version of Olvera’s churros found in his other restaurants, served with carajillo-infused boozy dipping chocolate. Along with seasonal paletas like “Oaxacan Fudge,” mango with chamoy, avocado with buddha’s hands, or guava with requesón, all executed by their pastry chef, Joshua Ulmer. 

All of the salsas will be available for purchase.

“We’ve always been driven by the attention for detail, but we also want to have fun; a tortilla is an adequate place to do both.”

Ditroit is located at 2117 Violet Street. After today, It will be open from 11 AM to 8 PM every day.

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