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Miko Calo Takes Tacos To New Heights At Taquería Franco

A drinking session between two cousins gives birth to this playful French taquería in Salcedo Village.

Tucked within quiet San Agustin Street is Taquería Franco, the latest culinary (ad)venture between cousins RJ Galang and Chef Miko Calo (of Metronome fame) with their long-time friends, Laveena and Toogy Clavecilla (culinary instructors, food consultants, and proprietors of Comer y Comic).  The taquería officially opens on September 14th at 4:00 p.m.

With arguably the best logo in town (a scowling French bulldog in a luchador costume), Taquería Franco is the fun place Chef Miko and RJ always wanted to have.

“This is a place where we ourselves would like to hang out and just eat, drink, have fun with friends,” says RJ, the creative pillar among the partners. “It’s fun. It's just what it is. It's good for whatever it is—good food and good drinks.”

As for the question of its name, he says there are two answers: a smart one and a “dumb” one.

The “dumb” answer, he says, is France + Taco = Franco. Putting on his eyeglasses on for emphasis, RJ says the smart answer is that “Franco” came from the term Francophile, which is used to describe a person who loves anything French. Basically, that's Chef Miko.

RJ Galang and Miko Calo | Ching Dee

As Joël Robuchon-trained Chef Miko points out, their taquería is definitely NOT authentic or Mexican. It’s a French Taquería through and through. 

“It's a taquería that’s very French-leaning because that's what I do. And that's the core of my cooking, so it naturally comes out,” she explains, adding that she developed the entire menu after “spitballing ideas” with RJ. 

“It's a little bit more elevated. The food's different. The ambiance is different because we reimagined it. This is tacos reimagined by Miko,” RJ points out. 

The chef says, “It’s really kind of playing around with what we know already. Making it a little bit more playful, you know, something familiar [as seen through] a different lens.”

She adds, “I'm not doing anything like super classic Mexican [since] it’s not something that I have a lot of knowledge about. I don't want to pretend; I don't want to do something half-assed.”

RJ chimes, “The only authentic thing about this space is it’s authentically us — the food is authentically Miko; the design is authentically me.”

13 Best Pet Friendly Restaurants In Manila 2023


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Definitely nothing at Taquería Franco can be described as half anything. From the minimalist industrial interiors, the vibrant Lui Medina painting of Chef Miko’s tongue-piercing days, and especially the signature cocktails developed by David Ong (OTO, The Curator) and Cedric Mendoza (Manhattan SG) of beverage consultancy group, PourHouse Hospitality.

“It was a really good experience for us to be working together with Chef Miko and RJ and Toogy because they're like, our toughest critics. They’re very honest. We want to make sure that we serve the best that we can,” award-winning mixologist Cedric Mendoza tells us. He highly recommends trying Franco 75 and Sangre de Franco on your first visit. This writer would also like to make a case for the Lucky Peche, a refreshing tequila-based cocktail with calvados, peach, lime, agave syrup, and soda water.

The Lucky Peche and Franco 75 | Ching Dee

As for the menu, much like a Mexican luchador (wrestler), it’s lean yet strong and always finding ways to reimagine Mexican classics into contemporary French flavors, like using fermented buckwheat to make tortilla for the tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas instead of corn or flour—reminiscent of the French galette. 

The fillings are trés French as well, ranging from silky smooth seared foie gras to comforting lamb bourguignon. All tacos (save for the Foie Gras) are served in twos, making it an extremely good bang for your buck especially at this quality. We highly recommend the Foie Gras (pan-seared duck foie gras with salsa negra and onion crisps), and Prawns (sautéed prawns with house-made rouille, avocado mousse, Franco pepper sauce, cabbage, and chili-lime vinaigrette) tacos.

Frenchified tacos: Foie Gras and Prawn. | Ching Dee

Also superb are the Duck Confit (duck confit with dijon mustard, hot honey, carrot and sultana relish, frisée, and red wine vinaigrette), and Lamb Bourguignon Birria (lamb bourguignon with oyster mushrooms, parsley-coriander pesto, emmental, and lamb jus for dipping) tacos. It's no surprise to learn the latter is Chef Miko’s favorite.

Sure hits: the Duck Confit and the Lamb Bourguignon Birria tacos. | Ching Dee

For vegans, they offer a robust Sautéed Mushroom Taco (sautéed mushrooms with roasted tomato salsa, cilantro and parsley pistou, arugula, frisée, and parsley).

Sautèed Mushroom Tacos | Ching Dee

The tostadas were a delight as well with their crispy buckwheat tortillas. The tasty toppings are piled on, as much as the tortilla can handle, and surprisingly the tostadas hold up, though you should eat it right away. While all three tostadas in Taquería Franco’s menu are great, we highly recommend the Eggs & Caviar Tostada (egg salad with avruga caviar, tartar sauce, Franco hot sauce, and pickled vegetables), which reminded me of Chef Miko’s life-changing (well, at least for me) lockdown-special egg salad croissant. The satisfying crunch of the tostada was so good that I briefly wished it’s bigger.

This Eggs & Caviar Tostada might just change your life! | Ching Dee

The third section of their menu features Franco-fied quesadillas made with crisp Gruyère crusts. All three were, once again, really good. But the lactovegetarian-friendly Creamed Spinach Quesadilla stole my heart. It contained creamed spinach with Emmental, Gruyère, arugula, frisée, and watercress in between two Gruyère-crusted buckwheat tortillas. The Raclette & Bacon Quesadilla came with tomato jam with a sweetness that complemented all three quesadillas beautifully.

You'll lose your heart to thse Creamed Spinach and Raclette & Bacon Quesadillas | Ching Dee

Another favorite that I’ll surely come back for is Le Bon Junk (‘The Good Junk’), Taquería Franco’s version of the Tex-Mex staple “walking taco”. They managed to turn store-bought corn chips into “good junk” using French elements: garlic bechamel, beef haché, tomato concasse, pistou, crumbled feta, and Franco pepper sauce. The result is a moreish snack that you can’t help but keep shoveling it into your mouth. Neither self-control nor your doctor will be enough to keep you away from it.

Le Bon Junk is seriously good! | Ching Dee

Dessert should not be missed at Taquería Franco. In fact, this writer insists that you try any of their three offers. The Horchata Bread Pudding made with pieces of buttery croissant and pain au chocolat sits in the middle of Horchata-infused crème anglaise and topped with house-made cajeta (Mexican caramel or dulce de leche).

Horchata Bread Pudding | Ching Dee

Meanwhile, the Hot Chocolate Tart is sprinkled with pink peppercorns for a little bit of heat that’ll remind you of Mexican mole with rich chocolate and chilies. And the Corn Flan with Mimolette was my absolute favorite; it was creamy, soft, with just the right amount of sweetness to make the corn stand out. The shredded mimolette on top gave it a sharp savoriness to accentuate the sweetness. The desserts are well executed and dare I say, well planned, as the flavors still work with cocktails.

Corn Flan with Mimolette and the Hot Chocolate Tart | Ching Dee

Remember, when you come to Taquería Franco, bring your appetite, but leave your expectations at the door! 

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Doreen Gamboa Fernandez, Her Legacy And Legend

Taquería Franco | G/FLPL Building (back entrance), San Agustin Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City | website: | FB: @taq.franco | IG: @taqueria.franco.

As a reward for reaching this far, here are two more dishes: an Octopus Tostado and Poulet Roti Taco | Ching Dee

Photography by Ching Dee | Lead photos courtesy of Taquería Franco