Best Reinvention - 2010
Almost every restaurant that makes it past its five-year anniversary has to reinvent itself, even if that just means replacing the tables and repainting the walls. However, very few restaurants survive a radical transformation — which is what makes Azteca Taqueria's metamorphosis into Chilango both startling and welcome. Tapping into the zeitgeist, Victor Hugo Juarez took his lackluster 20-year-old taqueria, changed the color scheme from Santa Fe to earth tones, and reworked his menu to focus on upscale versions of Mexico City antojitos: huaraches topped with braised short ribs; duck-stuffed flautas; tacos of sustainably raised meats wrapped in organic, housemade tortillas. Now Chilango appears to turn more tables on a Friday night than Azteca did in a week.