Update: This story and headline been updated to reflect Detroit Loves Tacos' new locations.
A Southwest Detroit couple is bringing a taste of Mexico to Corktown.
Julie and Jason Stevens have been previewing their upcoming Mexican restaurant through pop-up events this month in North End. With options ranging from family-inspired comfort food to health-conscious vegan choices, the husband-and-wife team has been previewing their menu for the community before they open their permanent location this year.
Initially eyeing a brick and mortar in North End, they have since changed locations from North End to Corktown. They are based at Nancy Whiskey's, 2644 Harrison, where you can find them every Tuesday and they also just signed a lease for space at Happy 4 Liquor in Corktown, says Julie Stevens. They'll have their grand opening there on Jan. 5 (coincidentally on what is informally known as Taco Tuesday).
Julie and Jason Stevens, founders of Detroit Loves Tacos
“I don’t put anything in front of people that I wouldn’t serve to my family,” Julie Stevens says.
The self-taught cook finds joy in serving others and takes pride in her food. “I just love to see people’s reactions when they take their first bite of the tacos … I enjoy making people happy. For me, food is love, food is comfort, and that’s what I’m glad I’m bringing to the neighborhoods and to that area.”
Detroit Loves Tacos’ menu is divided into two sections — the comfort side and the conscious side. On the comfort side of the menu, people can order filling things like al pastor, frijoles charros, Mexican sandwiches, different kinds of chicken and beef tacos, and what Julie Stevens calls “mom’s rice” — which is based on a recipe handed down by her mom. They also make their own salsas, which are made from vegetables and chiles they grow themselves.
On the conscious side, there are healthier and vegan options like cauliflower tacos and spinach enchiladas — healthy options that the North End neighborhood would be interested in.
Harris points out next-door neighbor The Pink Elephant is an eco-friendly store featuring healthy products, which complements Detroit Loves Tacos’ health-conscious mission.
“We’re trying to help keep the neighborhood healthy,” Harris says.
The pop-up events, which were on Friday, Sept. 11 and Saturday, Sept. 19, attracted many people from the community, which gave the owners a positive outlook on the restaurant’s opening. Both pop-ups had several items off the menu available, and they’re already building a loyal clientele, Julie Stevens says.
“We last did a pop-up on Saturday, and we had three officers, Detroit police officers, and they ended up sending whoever was on duty at that time — we had six squad cars pull up. Everybody got out to eat after the three officers ate. So, it was pretty cool to see that, and know that my food drew those people to come,” she says.
Based on the success of the pop-ups, the owners believe the restaurant will be met with a lot of positive feedback when they open later this year.
“Just [based on] the reception that we got from the people, because they'll walk in and be like ‘oh man, we don’t have to go all the way down to Southwest Detroit to get this food,’ ” Julie Stevens says. “I’m like ‘I brought it to you guys.’ It’s super exciting … bringing all of that to that neighborhood is exciting.”