There’s something exciting about watching one of our local restaurateurs going big––building an entirely new restaurant, next door to the old one, and looking on as the original place disappeared into a freshly paved and striped parking lot. That’s what’s been happening the past eighteen months, downtown on Third Street, as David Reynoso, his brothers, nephews, and the crew of Taqueria Maria took a leap of faith and made it happen.
The Reynosos grew up in a small town called Galos, in the city of Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico. He was one of sixteen kids—eight boys and eight girls. They all worked with their father on the family farm. David began working at the age of six years old. He learned very young what it meant to put in a long day’s work. He said, “With that many kids, everyone has to work.”
David migrated to the United States and worked for a few years in an East L.A. restaurant before he was enticed to Napa Valley by his cousin. David and his brothers liked Napa Valley, and they agreed it was a great place to live—a small community with nice people. Considering their combined experience working in a variety of restaurants––it was natural for them to make the move and purchase an existing restaurant on the Napa River, which was then known as El Portillo. It was a compact location with limited seating and a tiny kitchen—it was an opportunity for the family to pave the way for a new beginning.
David’s dream was to open a restaurant since he was young. He got the idea from the 1976 movie, Rocky. Seeing Sylvester Stallone’s character, Rocky Balboa, working as a chef––cooking for people and making them happy was inspirational. David was motivated to do the same. He thanks God for the chance to make his dream come true.
Taqueria Maria was named for their mother, Maria, and the Virgin Mary; the restaurant has served the community for the past nine years. The dining room and patio were often filled with guests enjoying their meal amidst the colorful banners and rose garden in front. However, David noticed they had missed opportunities because of the limited seating. Potential guests were unable to wait and went elsewhere. The solution was simple . . . buy the lot next door and build a bigger restaurant, brand new, from the ground up.
The property borders the Napa River, and the Reynosos were excited to have space enough to increase the capacity of the dining room and expand outdoor seating areas––in front and back. Now, Taqueria Maria seats up to eighty inside, fifty on the front patio, and fifty-five guest in the back, as well as, an additional eight picnic tables which can seat up to ten each. Now that’s what we call making opportunities happen!
The build was an eighteen month project, from beginning to end, with very few glitches to slow them down. The architect for the new building was Roberto Juarez. He and David designed the layout and decor. Construction ensued as loyal diners observed the progress from the tiny restaurant next door. The business was only closed for two weeks at the very end of the project, while the original was demolished and the final touches were put on the new location.
David had only good things to say about the process––permitting and inspections took time—but went as scheduled without any unexpected delays. The expansion created new jobs in the community, staff numbers have grown from about fourteen to twenty. There were plenty of applicants and David enjoyed the process of interviewing and selecting the new employees.
The responsibilities of chef are shared between David and Luis. Their other brothers, four nephews, and the crew pitch in with the myriad of responsibilities it takes to keep the restaurant running smoothly and the customers happy. The new dining room has been filled with satisfied diners since the opening last week.
The menu is quite extensive, offering authentic Jalisco style Mexican food reminiscent of their hometown. Other than a few seafood additions to the menu, everyone will be glad to know their favorites are still around. David told us they are creating a variety of specials to feature each weekend.
When he’s away from the restaurant, David enjoys time with his family. They recently added another precious girl to the world, now they have two! David’s experience as a father has given him the insight to be flexible with his employees. He knows the challenge working parents face and is happy to make it easier to be a working parent for his employees.
David spends many hours each day in the restaurant, and we were curious what he enjoyed eating. He claimed everyone’s favorite as his own . . . tacos, of course––because they are delicious and easy to eat. Chicken Fajitas and Molcajete are also at the top of his list. We were more curious what local restaurant David enjoyed when he has a chance to eat out. With zero hesitation he answered, “Red Rock Cafe, on Lincoln Avenue. I go there with my daughter, Paige, every Wednesday night for a hamburger.”
David’s face lit up with a wide smile talking about it, the simple tradition means a lot to the hard-working man.
Congratulations are in order, the Reynoso Family has done a great job making David’s dream come true. The new place looks great, the food is appetizing and flavorful, and the portions are generous. Catering is also available, and very reasonably priced. Taqueria Maria is prepped and ready for you to come by and have breakfast, lunch or dinner.
David, like Rocky Balboa, enjoys seeing people appreciate the authentic cuisine he has known since childhood. The staff is warm and welcoming, and happy to help you through your dining experience. Go! Check out the new dining room or sit on the patio and enjoy the river view and fresh Napa Valley air, you’ll be glad you did.
707.257.6925 | 640 third Street, NapA | TaqueriaMaria.com
Open everyday 9am - 9pm