By Kevin Revolinski | Photography by Hillary Schave
The story begins with homemade tamales being sold to neighbors and church members in Madison in 2001. Josefa Trejo and her husband, Francisco Vasquez, had just moved from Mexico the year before — and their tamale business really took off. In 2006, they opened Taqueria Guadalajara.
Trejo, who was born in Querétaro, Mexico, learned to cook from her mother, and the tamales and mole recipes at the taqueria are her mom’s creations. All of the restaurant’s other recipes are also authentic and passed down from her family.
“The tamales here are special. You won’t find them anywhere else,” says Trejo.
The secret ingredient? “Todo mi amor” — all her love.
A mural in the front of the restaurant celebrates the cornfields and orange trees of their Mexican homeland. Each one of the couple’s four children has worked here, and daughter Imelda still does.
“We all learned how to cook all the dishes, even if we worked in the front,” explains Imelda.
Both Trejo and Vasquez are passionate about cooking, a shared interest she says makes the taqueria’s success possible. Come holiday time, champurrado, a hot drink made with milk, cornstarch, chocolate and cinnamon, is popular. And serving those famous tamales is a Christmas Eve tradition in Mexico. In fact, it’s all hands on deck when the family prepares 1,200 tamales to sell for that day alone — so other families can count on a bit of Trejo’s secret ingredient for the holiday.