grilled fish tacos at taqueria durango photo by jonathan gayman

After a year of rebuilding, Taqueria Durango plans to reopen this spring

On March 5, 2020, Overland restaurant Taqueria Durango suffered a fire that caused severe damage, forcing it to close indefinitely. Fortunately, nobody was injured in the event. “We’re definitely praying and hopeful to rebuild, to get it up,” general manager Angelica Lopez told Sauce at the time. “Unfortunately, it takes time.”  

Now, just over a year later, the Lopez family is looking to close this chapter of their beloved restaurant’s history. “My dad (owner Miguel Lopez) wants to do it as soon as possible,” Lopez explained. “We’re getting the kitchen equipment, we’re working on floors and restrooms right now. All these little things.” She said they’re hoping to open by Cinco de Mayo, but that inspections may push it a bit past that. “There’s always tiny things that can take longer,” she said.

The new Durango will mostly resemble the old one, with a few small changes. Some of the less popular dishes will be gone, and a couple new bites will appear. While the bar of the original Taqueria Durango never fully materialized, Lopez said, they’re hoping to step it up in the restaurant’s new iteration. “We’re working on our drink menu to see if we can have a little more,” she said. “We had the bar previously, but this time we’re definitely going for it.” She added that the dining rooms will be mostly similar, but due to some changes dictated by the county, like having double doors and larger restrooms, the capacity will be slightly less.  

As she looks to the future, Lopez reflected on an extremely difficult year for her family. “It’s definitely been hard. From March we stopped everything,” she said. “We had probably all summer booked for parties, so that’s been hard for us, but we understand the pandemic and everything. That’s what’s slowed us down.” Luckily, they didn’t have to do it alone; they found that community supported them throughout, from the GoFundMe set up by Brian Hardesty to the customers who have continued calling and asking after the restaurant. “We’re just grateful for the community, who’s always been there for us,” Lopez said.  

And despite not having a restaurant, the Lopez family has continued giving back, offering food to people in need through STLJuntos and the Streets of Hope Foundation. Once a week since last summer, they “gave food for kids no questions asked,” Lopez explained. “We just do about 500 packages (of food) a week.” 

Now, as larger portions of the community get vaccinated and more restaurants start to reopen for dining, Lopez is cautiously optimistic about the next phase of Taqueria Durango. “I’m excited, but nervous at the same time,” she said. But in light of the enormous fanbase of her family’s restaurant, it seems safe to predict that the diners will return.