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Something to Tako about

Tako Ten’s wall has a description of each of the tacos offered at the restaurant. (Courtesy of Dominic Valenzuela)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Taco Tuesday cannot come soon enough for lovers of the folded handheld delight of protein or veggie-filled tortillas.

Whether it’s traditional Mexican-style prepared meats such as carne asada or carnitas, battered fish or vegan sweet potato, there is a taco for everyone, every day, at the new Tako Ten. The restaurant opens its doors on Monday, Aug. 17.

Chef Dominic Valenzuela’s tacos gained accolades and attention at his previous business Dia de los Takos that operated out of Albuquerque Indoor Karting, as well as his mobile taco truck that many times local craft beer lovers would encounter when visiting their favorite breweries.

Baja Fries made with a blend of sweet potato fries and russet fries topped with cheese sauce, crema, guacamole and salsa fresca at Tako Ten.

Valenzuela, with the help of four other business partners, will open Tako Ten restaurant in the Bridges On Tramway retail complex.

“We wanted to stay along the lines of tacos and burgers and we did a lot of brain storming and tossing around names and Tako Ten is what stood out to me,” Valenzuela said.

“So we kept the spelling with a K. That’s how I’ve been spelling Dia del los Takos. It was the customer’s way of associating the two.”

Tako Ten offers a number of salsas including salsa rojo, salsa verde, yellow mango salsa, orange habanero salsa, purple Fresno salsa, and Tres Chiles salsa.

Valenzuela said Tako Ten is built on having 10 core tacos that are specialty – something for everybody from al pastor to carnitas to brisket to fried chicken to fish, even vegan options and vegetarian options.

“Then we’ll also have our burgers that were gaining popularity, nachos and an assortment of fries and salads,” he said.

Each of the tacos has a story – a unique name.

A description of each taco is located on a wall with Día de los Muertos-themed characters by each.

Lover is an al pastor taco made with tender pork shoulder marinated in a robust blend of red chiles roasted on an open flame. Meanwhile, Dreamer is made of a juicy marinated chicken thigh fried crispy and glazed with maple and red hot.

Granny is comprised of seasoned ground chuck caramelized in a butter bath with onions, garlic and bacon topped with lettuce, cheese and salsa rojo.

The Lover is an al pastor taco filled with pork shoulder marinated in a robust blend of red chiles and roasted on an open flame at Tako Ten.

“My flavors and my journey has been eclectic so I’ve had samplings of all different types of cuisine and I just have been picking and choosing my favorites and bringing them all and incorporating them into this menu,” Valenzuela said.

Tako Ten’s salsas give each of the restaurant’s offerings that extra zing and kick.

“We’ll have seven different salsas to choose from,” Valenzuela said. “Some of the more traditional ones. We’ll have a serrano salsa verde. We’ll have a traditional salsa rojo which is your tomato base, jalapeños, onion and garlic but then we have more of spicier versions Tres Chiles, which is a darker red salsa that’s more on the hot side.”

Valenzuela said there are salsas where he took inspiration from his visits to California.

“The Fresno beet one, which will actually be Purple Fresno Salsa, and then I’ll have a yellow mango and Peruvian chile salsa. A Peruvian aji amarillo so it’s a long yellow pepper from Peru,” he says.

Dominic Valenzuela is the co-owner and chef of Tako Ten.

Patrons can call in to-go orders or place their orders online. There is limited patio seating but the restaurant is working with its next door neighbor Boxing Bear Brewing Co. to utilize part of its expanded patio.

“We’re right here by the mountain so take out, just taking it out and going for a picnic are some great options,” Valenzuela said. “Over here I’ve had a lot of people just camp out in the back of their truck. Tacos aren’t really anything you need to sit down with a white table cloth. You can prop up on your trunk and just go to town.”

Choosing a place in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights area was the perfect fit for Tako Ten.

“There’s a community out here that is dying for stuff closer to their home,” Valenzuela said. “I think it’s one of the forgotten places. They’re surely appreciating our presence. I’ve had my best sales here. A lot of people coming out to support and I know this complex will be booming once everybody gets on.”

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