Juan Almanza – Chef/Owner, El Taco Rustico
A native of Torreon in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, Chef Juan began cooking when he was 13. Even in his youth he liked preparing meals for family events, showing his love through food.
After more than four years of delighting patrons at the Tohono O’odham Swap Meet with his unique flavors, in February 2020, he opened El Taco Rustico, an authentic Mexican taqueria that has garnered rabid fans.
His first job at age 16 was in a steakhouse in Coahuila, where he learned how to manage the intricacies of preparing different cuts of meat and other technical skills. Stints in several different restaurants in his hometown followed before moving to Arizona with his young family.
At 21, he worked at restaurants in Green Valley, where for eight years he honed his talents at Los Amigos and Quail Creek. He cooked at Tucson’s El Merendero for six years, then at Tucson Country Club where he worked under Chef Robert Daniels, and at Hacienda del Sol before becoming head chef at Jimmy’s American Bistro. After that, he began a food truck, Mariscos Laguna, named after his hometown.
Chef Juan is dedicated to his craft, always exploring new methods and ingredients and committed to always doing things the best way possible.