by Rosalind Brazel
At Tacos Chukis, there’s not really a need for a “what to eat guide” — you can’t really go wrong at this chain of restaurants, including one on Beacon Hill. However, you would be a fool if you didn’t try the pork taco. The slice of pineapple seriously sets this taco off. The nopales taco (grilled prickly pear cactus) is also essential. No, it’s not slimy. It’s pretty good, and something you’ve never tasted before. How often can you say that in a blossoming Seattle food industry?
The origin of the restaurant is as compelling as the menu offerings. With his college marketing degree from the University of Washington in hand, Tacos Chukis owner Roberto Salmeron celebrated by taking a 30-day bicycle journey that ended in his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico.
“I was craving the food I grew up with, and couldn’t find a job anyway,” said Salmeron. “Well, except I was working at the Gap.”
Salmeron actually thought he would end up pushing paper in a cubicle for a living and not folding t-shirts and ringing up denim purchases. So, with the smells, sounds, and especially tastes, surrounding him on his visit to Tijuana, he hatched this idea.
“I wanted to bring the type of food I ate growing up, back to Seattle and expose this community to authentic Mexican food,” Salmeron said.
And that is how the idea of his successful chain of restaurants started. His first, and still the most popular, is the Tacos Chukis restaurant on Capitol Hill, which opened in 2011. He started there with just 1,000 square feet, eventually expanding to adjacent spots as they became available. Next, he opened the South Lake Union location in 2016. Then came, a great opportunity to open in the center of the Seattle Latinx community, Beacon Hill, next to El Centro de la Raza.
He follows the tradition of how the food industry works in Tijuana: focuses on one thing and does right with fresh ingredients and a core list of items. His specialty is the pork taco. They feature meat slow-cooked on a spit and sliced thinly. The pork tacos are served with a slice of pineapple, which is cooked in a similar fashion. It’s his most popular menu item across the board.
His newest expansion just opened up on 23rd and Union in Seattle’s Central District. It’s his biggest store yet. Salmeron said the opportunity was too good to pass up. So far, the Central District has welcomed the addition, and the restaurant growing at the rate his chain has, slow and steady.
Tacos Chukis, a taste of Mexico without the 30-day bicycle trip.
Featured photo by Rosalind Brazel.