Nearly seven years after debuting his popular Detroit taco pop-up Esto’s Garage, founder Esteban Castro has big plans to open restaurant in West Village. Castro tells Eater he’s leased a space at 1811 Parker St. next to Sister Pie with plans to open a permanent location of Esto’s Garage serving casual Mexican-American food.
At roughly 750-square-feet, the footprint of the future Esto’s Garage is relatively small. Castro’s plan is to keep the layout simple with limited equipment, a counter for taking orders, and a few seats indoors and on the sidewalk. The menu will likewise be paired down to the essentials. Diners can expect Esto’s Garage staples such as tacos with a handful of protein options, nachos, quesadillas, and rice bowls. He may also serve specials such as All City Chili — a mixture of different vegetables that riff on his mother’s recipe for bottom of the fridge stew. Castro also plans to offer a small selection of dry goods and shelf-stable items like hot sauce at the storefront.
Castro has worked in the auto industry since he was 20 years old. Around 2012, he began preparing meals for events and the experience became an outlet to connect with people outside of work. “In a factory setting, they don’t really encourage you to talk unless you’re asking a question,” Castro says. “That’s not who I am, so this is giving me a chance to channel myself and be able to be social.”
Esto’s Garage soon became a staple in the city’s pop-up calendar, with appearances at bars such as Two James Distillery, Motor City Wine, and a long term stint at Cafe D’Mongo’s Speakeasy. Castro pursued a food truck several years ago as a hobby, but the project never quite got off the ground. He now plans to sell the truck to help fund the new brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Castro has uprooted his life in an effort to pursue his business plan for Esto’s. He sold his home in 2012 and eventually relocated to West Village last August. During regular visits to Red Hook Coffee, he would chat with residents and gauge the community interest in a taqueria. “There’s a need here and also, just in a greater sense, there’s a need for a little bit more affordable food,” he says. Castro wants to make sure that his restaurant is welcoming to adults as well as kids. “That really hits home to me, because when I was a little, broke kid back in the day, I would always be like 50 cents shy of something,” he says. He hopes to host more informal gatherings in the space to get input from the community.
Castro is continuing to work at the Detroit Diesel factory as he pursues funding for the restaurant project. He’s currently taking courses with the Build Institute and has submitted proposals to NEIdeas and Motor City Match. If all goes well, Castro hopes to open by the end of 2019.
After years of factory work, he’s looking forward to finally living out his dream. “So many people I’ve seen in the city know me because of food and that’s the life well lived,” he says. “I can’t imagine not doing this.”