Taco Chelo, the Valley’s premier modern taqueria where traditional family recipes meet vibrant visual arts, is set to open its highly anticipated second location in downtown Tempe on Thursday, May 30.  

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Marking the first expansion for Taco Chelo, which has been a hotspot in downtown Phoenix since 2018, the new 1,600-square-foot location features a lively 36-seat outdoor patio ideal for people-watching. Exuding Mexican charm encircled with artistic ambiance, the Tempe restaurant offers the same beloved menu Taco Chelo is known for with a selection of tacos wrapped in hand-pressed, made-to-order tortillas, signature entrees and handcrafted cocktails.

Drawing inspiration from a 200-year-old Mexican cantina, Taco Chelo Tempe is intricately designed to resemble a traditional Mexican pueblo. Guests are greeted by handmade mosaic floor tiles bearing the quote “Less Feelings, More Tacos” for a photo-worthy moment upon arrival. At the heart of the restaurant sits a custom-made communal table, built by Lion Craft in Phoenix, while adjacent to the kitchen is a bespoke chef’s table made in Sonora, Mexico, both exuding a deep sense of craftsmanship. The chef’s table is available to reserve for curated experiences and tasting menus personally crafted by Chef Suny.

The pièce de résistance is the “retablo” (retable), a kelly-green elaborate structure with pops of neon serving as an altarpiece and displaying artwork, sculptures and more. With every surface soaked in color and floor-to-ceiling windows, the exterior focal point is a custom 4-foot neon LED sign made by Phoenix artist Lily Reeves of Reeves Studios. The artwork features a skull adorned with the letter “A” on the forehead, a nod to ASU’s treasured “A” Mountain (Hayden Butte), along with the quote “Hecho en Tempe” (“Made in Tempe”) that promises to make Taco Chelo Tempe a notable landmark all its own.  

“I consider Taco Chelo Tempe to be among my most beautiful work and it’s one of the projects I’m most proud of in my career,” said Gennaro Garcia, designer and co-owner of Taco Chelo. “My goal is to make people feel like they’re walking into one of my paintings. From the custom tile with colors that are a continuation of what I typically reserve for my murals to the textures inspired by my homeland, this restaurant is my love letter to Mexico.”

A collaboration by renowned restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin, revered Chef Suny Santana and internationally recognized artist Gennaro Garcia, Taco Chelo features family recipes and traditional cooking methods to deliver the genuine taste of Mexico while being backdropped by artistic splendor. The partnership fuses culinary mastery with artistic brilliance, offering guests a multifaceted experience unavailable elsewhere in the Valley.

Menu highlights include the Flamingo ($9.75) featuring crispy rolled tacos stuffed with cheese blend and roasted Anaheim pepper, topped with shaved lettuce, sour cream, avocado salsa, pico de gallo and cotija cheese; Chorizo Torta ($12) with chorizo, refried pinto beans, cheese blend, avocado and crema Mexicana; Sonoran Taco ($3.85) served on flour tortilla with carne asada, cabbage, Sonoran salsa and avocado salsa; Fish Taco ($4.50) with beer-battered fish, cabbage, pickled onion, chile morita crema and pico de gallo; Taco Chelo Salad ($12) with romaine lettuce, Jímaca, orange, cucumber, avocado crema, cilantro, mint, lemon vinaigrette, pepitas, cotija cheese, radish and Chimayo chile; and Mexican Chocolate Pot de Cremé ($6) with rich chocolate custard, cocoa nibs and whipped cream.

“Bringing Taco Chelo to Tempe is a culmination of our team’s hard work and deep-rooted passion for true Mexican cooking,” said Chef Suny. “We can’t wait for a new audience to discover the soulful flavors and vibrant culture that define Taco Chelo and know they will enjoy the exploration of Mexico’s culinary heritage.”

Additionally, the new Tempe location will feature the launch of Taco Chelo merchandise, including T-shirts, tote bags, stickers, keychains and more. The merchandise, all designed by Garcia, will also be available to purchase at the downtown Phoenix location.

“Expanding our footprint with this second location strengthens our commitment to bringing classic Mexican fare to the community,” said Aaron Chamberlin, co-owner of Taco Chelo. “With our team’s incredible service, Suny’s phenomenal recipes and Gennaro’s exceptional design, there simply isn’t anything else like this in the area. We look forward to introducing Tempe to Taco Chelo.”

Taco Chelo Tempe is located at 521 S. College Avenue, Suite 112, and is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday for dine-in or takeout. Happy hour is available weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. and all day on Tuesdays while weekend brunch is available Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more, visit TacoChelo.com.