The Lakeway R19 Taqueria restaurant is the pioneer of Cali-Mexican cuisine

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Christopher Haydostian said his dream was to create and market the Cali-Mex culinary brand.

Haydostian is originally from Los Angeles and has been a chef for over 20 years. After moving to Austin with her family four years ago, Haydostian worked as a chef at St. David’s Medical Center.

“I think every chef dreams of having their own restaurant,” he said. “I had this dream for at least 10 years, but I never had the opportunity.”

After reuniting with three close friends in 2019, they agreed to help Haydostian start his restaurant, Reunion 19, in downtown Austin.

Although the restaurant closed after about a year and a half due to the pandemic, Haydostian noticed that quick-service restaurants were thriving and decided to open the fast-casual version of Reunion 19 in Lakeway in October 2021, R19 Taqueria .

The main difference between Cali-Mex and Tex-Mex is that the food comes from different regions of Mexico, Haydostian said. While Tex-Mex tends to come from border towns like Laredo, Cali-Mex uses flavors from places like Baja or Tijuana and blends flavors from around the world.

For example, R19 Taqueria’s chicken is marinated in a tandoori sauce traditionally used in Indian dishes. However, instead of using Indian-flavored spices, he “plugs in” Mexican-flavored spices to create his own take on the tandoori marinade.

Haydostian said he also wanted to honor Texas culture; his carne asada, a popular meat typically found in Cali-Mex foods, is made with local Texas rib eye.

Ultimately, Haydostian said he was glad he was able to break into Austin’s culinary scene.

“My success gave a lot of validity to being the California kid who wanted to create a taco in the heart of Texas’ taco capital,” Haydostian said.

R19 Taqueria

2422 S.RM 620, Ste. A-120, Austin

512-520-8058

www.r19taqueria.com

Opening hours: Mon.-Sun. 8am-8pm

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