In a small shop off of First Street, just north of Central Avenue, the Urban Taqueria serves tacos with a side of political commentary.
With plates such as “Executive Privilege” and “Fake News,” the comfort-food restaurant is generating controversial conversations. Some of the more politically charged plates include “The Wall” burrito, the “Lock Her Up” burrito and the “Wikileaks” taco.
Owner Hanif Mohamed said “The Immigrant” taco was often commented on for its sole ingredients: Organic green chile and fried potatoes.
“Every immigrant who comes into this country has to make a sacrifice,” Mohamed — who is an immigrant himself — said. “Potato is a staple diet (food); it was the cheapest item out there... So that talks about the immigrant. It doesn't talk about one particular group of people.”
For some people, this interpretation of the menu is not progressive. University of New Mexico professor Patricia Perea told KOAT in an interview that normalizing phrases that may have been used in hate speech can be dangerous.
In response to this, Mohamed said, “How are we legitimizing something we are talking about? If you have a child and your child misbehaves, do you keep quiet?”
For Mohamed, having conversations about today's politics was the reasoning behind the menu’s names.
“The wall, whether you like it or not, is a point of discussion… it’s a conversation to have. And what better place to have it than over food?” Mohamed said.
Mohamed said that, on Yelp, the discussion over his food was seeing such drastic reviews that the website, along with Google, had to moderate.
Since its opening ten weeks ago, the shop has been featured in a plethora of news outlets. Headlines such as Vice’s “New Mexico Taqueria Faces Criticism for Cringeworthy Trump-Themed Menu” have only added momentum to the restaurant's popularity.
“It’s been positive overall… but it got pretty vicious… and then there was a lot of support nationally,” Mohamed said. “We were in the newspaper in London... we were on the radio in Poland. So yeah, it’s spreading pretty quickly.”
Prior to its current location at One Central Ave., the Urban Taqueria was located off of Jefferson and Silver under the name of the Crazy Lizard Taqueria. According to Mohamed, the menu items today were already being offered there.
“The Mueller and The Bar are the only new additions to my menu. Everything else was at my old restaurant,” Mohamed said.
Most of the menu items were created by Mohamed and his staff two and a half years ago. Continuing on, he said most of his employees have been with him for three or four years. In the future, Mohamed plans to add to the menu.
As for the tacos, Bryan Chianelle, a visiting member of the US Air Force from Charleston, S.C. said they were tasty and had good flavors. When asked where he got the idea to visit the Taqueria, he replied — Yelp.
Luisa Pennington is the Culture Editor and Co-Opinion Editor of the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_luisapennington_