Daniel Tapia of Dragon Rojo talks about his love of menudo (as told to writer Sonam Vashi).
I’ve been in Atlanta since 1998, before Plaza Fiesta and all of that, and started Dragon Rojo on Buford Highway 12 years ago. We specialize in black and gray tattoos—Mexican style—since other colors don’t show up as well on darker skin. We also sell supplies, which helps other tattoo shops in the community.
I’ve been eating menudo my entire life. My parents, who emigrated from Mexico City, made it for me while I was growing up in Houston. It’s a traditional dish, made by boiling cow’s stomach, or tripe, and stewing it with different spices and chilis, and we’d usually eat it in the mornings. When you get a hangover, you go and eat menudo; that’s what keeps you alive. It’s revitalizing.
At Sinaloense Pollo Asados, a counter-service place right across from El Rey del Taco, the menudo is my favorite. There are so many—too many—good Mexican places on Buford Highway, but at Sinaloense, the menudo is special; they make it with hominy [maize kernels that have been soaked in an alkaline solution, a process called nixtamalization], and that makes it a lot different than the traditional one. It gives the menudo a nice texture, and the soup becomes thicker, less watery. We’ll go to Sinaloense pretty often on Saturday or Sunday mornings, which is when the menudo is available.
I lived in Mexico City for a couple of years, and there, the meat is so much fresher; everything is newly killed and unfrozen, and the flavors are so much brighter. The menudo at Sinaloense reminds me of that. Now, my wife makes menudo at home for me and my three kids, often for dinner, and we’ll eat the leftovers the next morning. My kids have grown to love it; like me, it’s what they’ve grown up with, and it’s comforting.
5303 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-986-7752
This article appears in our October 2019 issue.