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La Terraza in Mexico City's La Guerrero neighborhood. La Terraza in Mexico City's La Guerrero neighborhood.

24-hour birria hotspot begins slow recovery after first closure in 11 years

Only a pandemic can close 40-year-old Mexico City restaurant

It seems that only a pandemic can stop Don Chuy and company from stewing the traditional birria from their native Jalisco, and only begrudgingly at that.

The last time La Terraza de Don Chuy closed its doors — literally — was during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. The 24-hour birria spot reopened Monday after a government-enforced 15-day closure to perform a deep-clean of the restaurant and make other preparations for “the new normal”.

Hungry customers normally spill out of the tiny space to crowd around a few rickety tables on the sidewalk, especially in the wee morning hours, as it’s one of very few places in Mexico City’s La Guerrero neighborhood to get a hot meal in the middle of the night.

But in the new normal there are no tables on the sidewalk and yellow tape reading Precaución stretches across the entrance, where a sign announces take-out service only.

Jesús Uribe — Don Chuy to neighbors and regulars — started the restaurant over 40 years ago, initially opening for 20 hours a day. But as demand grew, the family decided they’d better just keep the doors open all night long.

Birria tacos at La Terraza don Don Chuy.
Birria tacos at La Terraza de Don Chuy.

His son Osvaldo Uribe, who has seen two closures and both due to microbial threats, said that “these situations show us that we’re all in the same boat.”

He said that as history has shown, he can depend on his customers to return, just as they can depend on him and his family to be cooking delicious food all night long, at least to the extent government that health regulations allow.

Currently only serving at 20-30% of normal capacity, they have adjusted their purchasing in order to be able to continue to offer freshly cooked meals. This has lowered costs while maintaining the quality that brought Mario and a coworker in search of their first bites of Don Chuy’s birria in over two weeks.

“I kept checking on Facebook, and finally they said they’d be open today,” said Mario while Osvaldo bagged their order.

Osvaldo Uribe’s tone strongly suggested that without the government order to close they would have continued to serve his father’s stewed beef and goat meat tacos as usual, but they were happy to comply and will continue to do so until things return to normal.

“It’s a slow process, but we’re grateful for the benefit they’ve given us of being able to open up at a limited capacity,” he says, adding that both the family and the employees are glad to reopen.

“It’s like a first step back to normality. This is a difficult situation, but we’re all trying our best to see that it passes as quickly as possible,” he said.

Mexico News Daily

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