Bright, colorful murals of flowers and Día de los Muertos-style skulls decorate the walls of Taqueria el Patrón on 50th and Xerxes. The smells of Mexican food cooking fills your nostrils and upbeat Spanish music plays in the background when you walk in the door. Chances are that you’ll see Nadia Rosales and Victor Herrera behind the counter, too.

Herrera opened the Lake Street Taqueria el Patrón in 2016, and Rosales heard about a job opening there from a friend. Rosales has been working alongside Herrera nearly every day since opening eight years ago, first at the cash register and now managing the licenses, applications and events for the business.

Nadia Rosales started working for Victor Herrera after her friend told her to try the tacos at Taqueria el Patrón. Photo by Anna Koenning

In addition to the Lake Street and 50th and Xerxes locations of Taqueria el Patrón, Herrera owns a food truck for events. He also secured a location in Apple Valley where he plans to sell tacos but the focus will be ice cream, similar to La Michoacana.

Herrera opened the 50th and Xerxes location in November after the owner of El Travieso Taqueria decided to close that location. The bright green restaurant has a covered patio with several tables for outdoor eating in the warmer months. Rosales likes the new location because it’s close to her house and calmer than the Lake Street location, and Herrera appreciates the community of families surrounding the restaurant. He describes Taqueria el Patrón as a “mostly” family-run restaurant.

“It’s more friendly, more fun working with my wife, my kids, my brothers all the time,” Herrera said. “I love cooking and my wife loves cooking too.”

Victor Herrera is excited to use the patio once it warms up. Photo by Anna Koenning

The taqueria creates traditional Mexican flavors across their menu including guacamole, horchata and salsas that are made fresh daily, and fresh vegetables. Tacos are the star of the menu, and they can be made al pastor, with fish, shrimp, carnitas, tinga, chorizo, asada, barbacoa, lengua, cecina or chivo. On weekends they sell pozole, menudo, chilaquiles and huarache. In addition to all the meat options, they make vegetarian tacos and tortas.

One of Herrera’s favorite parts of owning Taqueria el Patrón is introducing people to new flavors. His favorite menu item is the barbacoa and Rosales’ is the al pastor.

The food truck, which has a more streamlined menu, goes to graduation parties, weddings and quinceñeras across the Twin Cities and the suburbs, as well as events at the Fairgrounds. Herrera likes the community aspect of working the food truck because he gets to interact with all sorts of customers and introduce them to new flavors.

Many of the murals decorating Taqueria el Patrón remain from the previous restaurant, but owner Victor Herrera likes the art and will likely keep it while adding some of his own. Photo by Anna Koenning

Rosales has plans to secure a liquor license for Taqueria el Patrón so that they can begin selling alcohol. She and Herrera are excited for the warmer season when they can use the patio and neighborhood kids can eat there when they are out of school.

Taqueria el Patrón is located at 4953 Xerxes Avenue S. and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. You can book the food truck through the Minnesota Food Truck Association.