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The LA Taco Chef Behind Mexicali Is Opening His First Texas Restaurant in Austin

Esdras Ochoa is taking over the former Gotham tavern space in East Cesar Chavez

Tacos from Mexicali Taco & Co.
Tacos from Mexicali Taco & Co.
Mexicali Taco & Co./Facebook
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

A new restaurant is taking over the now-closed New York-styled tavern Gotham on 1700 East 2nd Street in the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood. Reunión 19 will be headed by Los Angeles chef Esdras Ochoa, who is most known for Los Angeles restaurants Mexicali Taco & Co. and alfresco Mexican restaurant Salazar.

Reunión 19 is meant to be a casual restaurant, focusing on Mexican fare, tacos, and good cocktails, as Ochoa told Eater. It’s expected to open in January 2020.

In Los Angeles, Ochoa opened his essential taco restaurant Mexicali Taco & Co. as a cart in 2009 and grew with a restaurant in 2012, becoming popular for its carne asada and the Vampiro quesadilla, which came laden with garlic sauce. He is also the co-founder and was the opening chef of Mexican grilled meats restaurant and patio haven Salazar in 2016 in Los Angeles. He is currently working in a Mexican restaurant in Hong Kong, 11 Westside, which he joined in 2017. He also appeared in Netflix cooking competition show The Final Table in 2018.

Also working with Ochoa is chef Christopher Haydostian, who is one of Ochoa’s good friends. Currently, Haydostian is the executive chef of hospital and emergency room service St. David’s HealthCare’s food programs. Also rounding out the Reunión team is Charlie Tsai and Daniel Eun, the latter who is the beverage director of 11 Westside.

Gotham officially closed as of as of Wednesday, October 16. The reason behind Gotham’s closing is because the restaurant “fell short of the foot traffic we needed to keep the wolf from the door,” as co-owner Nick Goulding wrote on Facebook.

Nick Goulding and co-owner and wife Jessica opened Gotham in July 2018, taking inspiration from his years spent in New York during his 20s and 30s. They also run Southwest Austin restaurant Cafe Malta.

Gotham took over the building that previously housed Italian restaurant Al Fico, which opened in 2015, but closed less than a year later.


12 East 12th Street, Manhattan, NY 10003 (212) 620-4020 Visit Website

Reunión 19 [CLOSED]

1700 East 2nd Street, Austin, Texas 78702