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Taqueria Garibaldi celebrates ‘grand re-opening’

The Sevilla family members displaying daily dinner specials are (from left) husband and wife Maria and Mingo and daughter Stefani. Photo by Jane Kathleen Gregorio

In Mexico City, Plaza Garibaldi is a place of festivity, where mariachi musicians perform day and night and crowds gather to socialize and be entertained. The atmosphere of joy and celebration in that historic plaza is what restaurant owner Jose Domingo “Mingo” Sevilla envisioned when he opened Taqueria Garibaldi in Corpus Christi in 1995.

A thriving establishment on the corner of Staples and Blucher streets, Taqueria Garibaldi celebrated a “grand re-opening” last month after enlarging the floor plan to double the seating capacity. Along with more dining space, the popular restaurant added a full-service bar.

“We now have karaoke nights Fridays from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m.,” Savilla said. “We have space for weddings, baby showers and parties. We also offer catering for pickup.”

As for future plans, Sevilla hopes to build his restaurant into a dining mecca that will attract tourists and locals alike.

“Why should people feel like they have to leave Corpus Christi to eat good food in San Antonio or Houston?” he asked. “I want to create a dining experience that will bring out-of-towners here, where this place will be filled with Mariachi musicians and much festivity.”

Already packed daily with diners for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Taqueria Garibaldi has long been a local favorite. The recipe for success, according to Sevilla, is all in the way he, his family and staff work.

“When you do your job with passion and joy, the results bring joy and happiness to the customers,” Sevilla said.

The road to opening a family-owned restaurant was not always easy or joy-filled, however.

Having left his hometown of Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico, at 16, Sevilla first went to Chicago, where he worked for several years in the restaurant business.

“I worked as a bus boy, a dishwasher, a waiter,” he said. “You name it, I did it.”

While his varied experience was hard, it equipped him with the necessary knowledge to move up in the business and eventually run his own establishment.

After seven years in Chicago, Sevilla relocated to Corpus Christi to work with family members.

“Eventually, I was supposed to move back to Chicago, but I met Maria, my wife-to-be, at the restaurant where I worked,” he said with a smile. “I've stayed in Corpus Christi ever since.”

He also met and became acquainted with Norman Howard, the original founder of Howard's BBQ.

“He told me he believed in my potential and said I was capable of starting my own business,” Sevilla said. “Mr. Howard really encouraged me.”

So when Howard's BBQ moved from Staples and Blucher to its current location on Antelope Street, Sevilla took over the space and remade it into Taqueria Garibaldi. Again, the early days were difficult.

“We had to be at work by 5 a.m. and sometimes wouldn't leave ’til past 11 p.m.,” he said. “It's a very challenging business, and if you're not passionate about what you do, you won't be as successful.”

Aside from hard work and passion, the heart of any good restaurant is the food, Sevilla said. His chefs are hired only after careful observation.

“If I observe that they just slap the food on the plate, they're just out to make money,” he said. “But if I see that they're meticulous with the presentation of the food and care about how it looks to the customer and tastes, that's the chef I want to hire.”

With his home region of Jalisco serving as inspiration, Sevilla believes Taqueria Garibaldi’s menu offerings stand out from the competition.

“We have all the favorites like enchiladas, fajitas, tortas, gorditas,” he said. “And customers love our mole. Our caldo soup is not just meat with some cabbage thrown in; it’s packed with lots of vegetables and more.”

New dishes are always being created to serve alongside traditional favorites. One of the latest, “The Garibaldi Delight,” includes a rib-eye steak and 10 shrimp.

“It’s delicious,” said Stefani Sevilla, the restaurant owner’s youngest daughter. Stefani helps manage the restaurant and bar.

Born a few months after the restaurant opened, Stefani, together with siblings Erica, Claudia and Domingo, has been helping her father since childhood.

“I remember at 5 years old bringing chips and salsa to the tables,” she said. “And growing up at school, I was known as the ‘Taco Girl.’”

Now 20, Stefani is finishing her degree in criminal justice with plans to study law.

“I still plan to help our family restaurant while I pursue my other career,” she said. “My siblings and I will work together. My vision for the restaurant is to make it a franchise someday with locations outside of Texas.”

The entire clan plans to continue in their father’s well-established tradition of working with passion and joy — a vision and philosophy that has enabled Taqueria Garibaldi to flourish in providing quality food, great service and a festive atmosphere.

Taqueria Garibaldi is located at 200 N. Staples St. Call (361) 884-5456 or visit the Taqueria Garibaldi Facebook page for more information.

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