Clovis may not be known as a destination for tacos, but Julio Lopez wants to change that.
Lopez recently opened Julio’s Taqueria at 635 W. Shaw Ave. in Clovis. The restaurant is in a former Port of Subs and is across the street from the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.
Although Fresno has a long history of being a hotbed for taco trucks and taquerias, Lopez said Clovis is ready to embrace the taco culture.
“People like good, fresh tasting food made with good quality ingredients and that is what we have,” Lopez said. “This isn’t just a taqueria in Clovis, it’s like a taqueria from Sonora, Mexico where my family is from.”
Lopez and his mother, Maria Jesus Lopez, toured the region, prior to opening the restaurant, visiting nearly 40 taquerias. The northern Mexican state is a major beef and wheat producer, so flour tortillas and grilled meat are dominant items on menus.
Among the Sonora-styled foods you will find at Julio’s are tacos karamelo, or caramelo: grilled meat with melted cheese. There are also tacos made with beef tripe (stomach lining) and tacos loaded with juicy beef rib meat.
Lopez has also come up with his own specialty tacos, including El Chingon that’s piled high with three meats, al pastor, rib meat and beef tripe. The meats are lightly marinaded and seasoned with salt, allowing the flavor of the meat to come through.
Customers have their choice of adding pickled onions, jalapenos, cilantro, limes, shredded cabbage, and sliced radishes. You also have three salsas to choose from, including a spicy red one with chile de arbol; a green salsa made with tomatillo and clintro; and a a smoky red salsa made with tomatoes and chipotle peppers.
You’ll also find items that you may have never seen before, like mulas and vampiros. Mulas, or mulitas, are like a taco but in quesadilla form. It’s cheese, your choice of meat, onions, and cilantro layered in between two hearty corn tortillas. that hold everything together.
Vampiros are somewhat similar, except the tortillas are grilled until they are lightly crunchy. They are called vampiro, Spanish for vampire, because the tortillas sometimes have a concave shape, resembling a bat wing.
For those skipping carbs, you can get your tacos wrapped in lettuce and there’s nopales, or cactus, for non-meat eaters.
In true Sonoran style, the restaurant’s flour tortillas tend to be thinner than most, and are made from Lopez’s mothers recipe. A photo of his mother hangs in the restaurant.
“Both my parents have been a huge part of opening this restaurant,” Lopez said.
Although open for just just a few weeks, customers Richard and Robine Sever of Clovis have been to Julio’s three times.
“Everything we’ve had has been amazing,” said Robine Sever. “And it’s great to have something like this in Clovis. This will become our go to place for tacos.”