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How Frida Kahlo inspired this reborn East Bay burrito counter

The super taco is one of Taqueria Mi Burrito's best-sellers. | Courtesy Taqueria Mi Burrito

Juan Garcia got a job in the kitchen at Taqueria Ramiro & Sons when he was 15. Now, 34 years later, his working life has come full circle as he takes the reins of the Alameda taqueria alongside his wife, Rosie. Freshly renamed Taqueria Mi Burrito, the Garcias’ restaurant soft-opened on March 18.

Though she said her husband knows the storied taqueria like the back of his hand, the restaurant business is brand-new to Rosie, who works by day as the health office assistant at Maya Lin School in Alameda.

“I’m learning everything as I go,” she said. 

Rosie told The Standard that the taqueria’s previous owner, Kim Hernandez, decided to retire last year and offered the business to Juan—her longest-running employee. Hernandez’s husband Ramiro was a pioneering restaurateur who opened one of the first takeout Mexican eateries in Oakland, Talk of the Town, in 1975 and followed up with the Alameda taqueria ten years later. When presented with the opportunity to call the restaurant his own, Rosie said Juan didn’t hesitate. 

“And I said, ‘Let’s do it. I’m behind you in whatever you want to do,’” she said.

Of course, Juan, who hails from the central Mexican city of Zacatecas, runs the kitchen. For years, the taqueria’s chicharrones, or fried pork rinds, have been a major draw—customers can order the crispy pig skins in a burrito or as a plate. Other longtime customer favorites include the fully-dressed super tacos and premium quesadillas, which Rosie said her husband doesn’t plan to change anytime soon.  

Like the Hernandez family, who famously refused to implement a credit card reader even in 2020, Rosie said Juan is ambivalent about modifying anything besides the restaurant name and logo. Previously, Taqueria Ramiro & Sons’ signage showed a boy riding a donkey. Rosie said she opted to swap out the boy with a little girl adorned with flowers in her hair as an homage to artist Frida Kahlo—a key influence on Rosie’s personal style. 

“I still wear flowers,” she said. “My friends call me Frida.” 

Still, Rosie said she plans to change just a few more things at the Alameda institution. The Garcias’ daughter, Luna, is a traditional Mexican dancer who performed at San Francisco City Hall on Mexican Independence Day last year. Rosie said she’s hoping they’ll be able to host a dance performance for the grand opening in early April and throw other celebrations later this year. The taqueria is located on a quiet cul-de-sac—an ideal setting for a block party.

“I’d love to do something for Cinco de Mayo,” she said. 

Taqueria Mi Burrito