Popular Mexican restaurant R&R Taqueria is coming to Baltimore.
Owner and chef Rodrigo Albarran said he plans to open R&R Taqueria — his first in the city, and third location overall — in either September or October, based on how long it takes to finish the build-out. The downtown restaurant will be located at 30 Light St., Suite 2, around the corner from Pitamore (formerly Cilantro).
“I felt that it was time,” Albarran said of the decision to come to the city. “I think the location is great.”
Unprompted, Albarran said he’s “very, very excited” to open in Baltimore, despite the idea pushed by some that restaurants are closing due to crime and violence.
“I know there’s a situation in Baltimore but we can’t just run away from the problem,” Albarran said. “I’m not a person who runs away. I really believe we’ve got to make a difference, and it’s one person at a time.”
First opened inside an Elkridge gas station in 2009, R&R Taqueria has garnered fans from the area and beyond since then. The restaurant has been featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” and the Food Network named it one of the country’s five best restaurants for Mexican food. Albarran opened another location in Perry Hall in 2013, and moved the original restaurant to a shopping center a couple years ago.
Known for handmade tortillas, fresh salsas and an assortment of tacos, R&R Taqueria’s food has found fans, Albarran said, because he’s serving food he’s personally loved his entire life.
“I’m serving people what I love and what I eat, and the way I like it,” he said. “I think that resonates.”
The Baltimore R&R Taqueria will be 3,500 square feet with approximately 100 seats, Albarran said. The contemporary design will look “really, really different” compared to previous locations, he said. Shipping containers, a nod to the city, will be used to decorate the space.
“The whole thing is shipping Mexico, or part of Mexico, to Baltimore,” said Albarran, 38, of Hanover.
It will also be the first R&R with a liquor license, so customers who’ve craved the combination of his cuisine with a beer or margarita in the past should be happy, he said.
“My focus is food first and drinks second,” Albarran said, “but there’s nothing like having some tacos with a beer.”
At 10, Albarran moved to Maryland from Mexico City. He didn’t know English, and remembers sleeping on a mattress on the floor when his parents didn’t have money. Using the recipes his mother and grandmother taught him, Albarran has built something he’s proud of, he said. In that same spirit, he wants to provide jobs for others in Baltimore through his restaurant.
“It’s a story,” he said of his success in Maryland. “And it’s all because somebody helped me out, or told me about this or that, and gave me an opportunity. … I really believe in giving back.”