North Campus taqueria closing after 20 years

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Photo Credit: Jamie Hwang | Daily Texan Staff

A local taqueria in North Campus will close on Nov. 14 after 20 years of service to UT students.

Changos Taqueria, located at 3023 Guadalupe Street, opened in 1998 as a fast, casual branch of its parent restaurant, Manuel’s. Co-owner Jennifer McNevin said she and two others made the decision to close to pursue more wide-reaching business opportunities.

“It’s not that we didn’t want to keep Changos open because we really did,” McNevin said. “It was a tough call to make. Ultimately, it came down to what we thought would be best in the long run, and that meant closing Changos.”

McNevin said the biggest opportunity for Manuel’s after Changos closes will be to start packaging their authentic Mexican food to be sold in Austin grocery stores.

“We’ve toyed with the idea for a while, going off what we’ve been hearing about how much people in Austin love local food,” McNevin said. “We thought if we could take that and reproduce it in a way that people could have access to our food in their own home, that’s kind of like getting to take the Austin food scene home with you.”

Manuel’s opened in 1984 and now operates locations on Congress Avenue and in Great Hills. McNevin said they emphasize more authentic Mexican-style recipes rather than Tex-Mex, and the owners tried to translate that into Changos’ casual format. Changos’ menu, according to their website, features specialized tacos, appetizers called botanas and house-made aguas frescas.

“The blending of Mexican cooking into the Tex-Mex style has made people in America more aware of what food and shared meals mean in Mexican culture,” said Martha Menchaca, a professor in UT’s Center for Mexican American Studies. “It’s still important to make it clear they’re two different things. You won’t find some foods served the same way in Mexico as you would here in Texas just because the regions have history that overlaps.”

North Campus resident Emily Wilson said she liked the convenience of Changos and is disappointed it’s closing.

“It’s easy to grab a quick bite to eat if I don’t really have the breakfast at home, and then stop by Wheatsville (Co-Op) for groceries or maybe share some queso with my friends,” said Wilson, a youth and community studies sophomore. “It’s not like there’s no way to do that in Austin anymore, but it sucks that it’s not going to be right there anymore.”

McNevin said although the restaurant is leaving North Campus, she hopes whatever ventures they make next will still appeal to students. McNevin said she wants to “keep in touch with that friendly and welcoming community” of students.

“It says a lot to me that this has been able to last as long as it did, and I’m thankful for how enthusiastic everyone has been about Changos all this time,” McNevin said. “Students are a really loyal customer base. When they love something, they love it, and they’re vocal about it, and if whatever happens next brings us back to them, that’ll be a win in my book.”