DULUTH – Robert Giuliani spent a good part of the last three years traveling through Mexico, and he never missed the chance to test a neighborhood taqueria.
Inspired by those quick-stop vendors sprinkled on street corners, Giuliani returned to his hometown to open his own restaurant: Tacos Tacos Tacos.
True to its name, the new downtown Duluth spot is selling traditional Mexican street tacos from an indoor walk-up window attached to a small kitchen at 107 E. Superior St.
For $2.75 to $3.50, customers can purchase al pastor (marinated pork cooked on a vertical rotisserie), arrachera (seasoned skirt steak), chorizo (Mexican sausage) and more wrapped in two small corn tortillas and served with diced onions, cilantro and lime.
The 45-year-old chef special orders his ingredients — particularly the meat — from suppliers across the country.
"I wanted to make it as authentic as possible," he said. "This is an experience that's very nostalgic to me."
Giuliani's mother is from Mexico, and he fondly remembers visits to the country growing up.
"One of the things that sticks out is the food," he said.
The chef has previously helped launch several Twin Cities restaurants and worked with his brother to open Clyde Iron Works in Duluth.
After time away, Giuliani says family, friends and Lake Superior always seem to draw him back to the Twin Ports, no matter how far he wanders.
During his most recent travels in Mexico, Giuliani estimates he tried 150 taquerias. He would ask to work alongside chefs and owners, learning recipes and techniques. Photos from the visits line the wall of the Duluth restaurant, and more appear on Giuliani's Instagram, @_travelingwithachef_.
The new restaurant's menu features a few additional favorites from Giuliani's trips, including a Mexican street hot dog and elote (seasoned corn on the cob, served only on weekends).
All items should be quick and easy to eat on-the-go. The speed of the operation makes it well-suited to thrive in the era of COVID-19, Giuliani said.
The restaurant is only offering takeout tacos, but he plans to eventually deliver using Food Dudes' online service and offer some indoor seating.
"The goal is to be faster than a lot of fast-food restaurants," he said.
Giuliani is working on plans to open another Tacos Tacos Tacos in the Twin Cities, and he's also exploring the possibility of a food truck.
"I just want to share with as many people as possible what a true taqueria is like," he said.
Tacos Tacos Tacos is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Katie Galioto • 612-673-4478