DETROIT – Chef Luis Garza is hoping to bring some of the traditional Mexican food from his home to his new home one piece at a time.
Tucked away in Southwest Detroit is El Asador, a small restaurant with some of the best Mexican food in town. It’s fitting that on a side wall is a mural named the “Deity of Southwest Detroit.” It was painted in 2015, one year after Garza opened the restaurant.
An immigrant to the United States in 1985, Garza worked in construction before coming to Michigan to cook. He worked in several large chain restaurants. After 20 years on that side of the business, he wanted to get back to his roots, bringing in the flavors of coastal Mexico to Michigan.
“I say ‘No, I’m going to do my little restaurant and I’m going to do it the right way, the way I want.’ I want to make it fresh. I want to make it the best for my customers because I believe in it,” Garza said. “I wanted to eat something different, something I know that we have in our country but we don’t have it here.”
Every ingredient is fresh, made from scratch. Nothing is pre-made. They don’t even have a freezer.
“It is a lot of work but we love what we do,” Garza said.
In the last year, he’s had to scale back his dream with the pandemic getting in the way of making an outdoor grilling kitchen and leaving El Asador short-staffed. But every day, his brother and 81-year-old mother join him in the kitchen.
“You have to have the passion to cook. It’s an art. You’re serving the food like it’s going to be for you, for your family to anyone. You’ve got to put the love in there. And that’s why it tastes good. You put the best part in there,” he said.
Garza said they’ve had to cut back on their service, including lunch, because there isn’t enough staff. He said they’ve been kept alive by regular customers.