Good Hom­bres, good tacos

Cam­pechano chef’s new spot has a Trump-bait­ing name, an in­dus­trial tor­tilla ma­chine and flaw­lessly sim­ple tacos

NOW Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - By NATALIA MANZOCCO

Good Hom­bres (374 Bathurst, at Nas­sau, 416-8620425, in­sta­gram.com/ good­hom­bres_to) is the an­swer to a ques­tion chef Daniel Roe has been hear­ing for two years at his Ade­laide ta­que­ria, Cam­pechano: “Where can I buy these amaz­ing tor­tillas?”

Since Cam­pechano opened its doors in 2016, Roe and his staff have been la­bo­ri­ously press­ing and grilling tor­tillas to or­der, taco by taco by taco. Though they would fre­quently field re­quests from cus­tomers to take home a bag, or for larger whole­sale or­ders from other restau­rants, the tiny kitchen and stream­lined oper­a­tion meant they could only make enough to fuel the restau­rant.

“The gen­e­sis of [Good Hom­bres] was that so many peo­ple want good tor­tillas, and there aren’t great nix­ta­mal tor­tillas in the city,” ex­plains Raena Fisher, Roe’s part­ner.

They gave their new tor­tille­ria a name that had been bounced be­tween Fisher, Roe and their third busi­ness

part­ner in Mex­ico ever since Don­ald Trump made a re­mark about stop­ping “bad hom­bres” in Mex­ico in Fe­bru­ary 2017. (Yes, that was only last year. And, yes, I feel like I’ve aged a decade since then, too.)

When asked to ex­plain the con­nec­tion, Roe and Fisher are a lit­tle more coy. “We were jok­ing around about the nar­ra­tive that ex­ists around Mex­i­cans to­day, the ‘bad hom­bre,’ and we were jok­ing that we should open ‘Good Hom­bres.’ And it stuck – we al­ways came back to this name,” Fisher says. “In the face of that nar­ra­tive, we wanted to cel­e­brate the won­der­ful things that come from Mex­ico. And corn is the foun­da­tion of Mex­i­can cui­sine.”

To put the wheels in mo­tion on their tor­tilla pro­duc­tion plans, they im­ported and up­graded a 14-foot tor­tilla ma­chine, which makes for a strik­ing (and squeaky) pres­ence at the front of the long, nar­row shop. They also brought up sacks of corn ker­nels from Mex­ico, which get made into masa dough through a process called nix­ta­mal­iza­tion: corn is cooked with an

al­ka­line sub­stance, which breaks down the corn and, ac­cord­ing to Fisher, opens up the flavour pro­file and the nu­tri­tional value. “That’s the first thing you can buy, if you want, to make your own tor­tillas – or pu­pusas or sopes or tamales.”

A few times per hour, Roe feeds a ball of masa into the top of the ma­chine, which rolls, cuts and presses rounds of dough be­fore send­ing them on a zigzag­ging con­veyor-belt ride into the belly of the ma­chine, even­tu­ally spit­ting out toasty, fresh tor­tillas, avail­able 12 to a bag for $5.

But though tor­tillas are the driv­ing force be­hind the busi­ness, so far, most of the folks lin­ing the take­out counter are there for a dif­fer­ent rea­son: Good Hom­bres’ taco menu, which fea­tures nine op­tions for $3.75 a pop.

“They’re, like, in­sanely sim­ple,” says Roe of the tacos, which dif­fer in recipe and size from the beefier, slightly more elab­o­rate se­lec­tions at Cam­pechano. Each one is lim­ited to an ul­tra­fresh grilled or braised pro­tein and a house-made sauce, maybe with a

sprin­kle of onion and a squeeze of lime here or there.

“It’s the way tacos are in Mex­ico. There’s noth­ing to it. The hard­est thing to do is make the tor­tillas.”

And by the way, those tor­tillas are

un­like any I’ve ever had: warm, pli­able, gen­tly elas­tic. They don’t break mid-bite, get soggy or go all mealy in your mouth. It’s the kind of tor­tilla you can re­ally put your faith in. food@nowtoronto.com | @na­tal­ia­man­zocco

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