Updated: Aug 23
City Girl Cooks hosts Latin Grammy nominated, all female Mariachi band, Mariachi Flor de Toloache at Al Mercato Taco Bar in Milan.
Nachos and tacos and tequila for ten at Al Mercato Taco Bar in Milan with Mariachi Flor de Toloache.
When I heard my friend Shae Fiol from high school was going to be in town here in Milan I was stoked. When I found out she was going to be here on tour with her band, the Latin Grammy nominated female mariachi band Mariachi Flor de Toloache, I knew I had the perfect plan.
Two days before their concert at Alcatraz in Milano , we were ready to kick it, relax and catch up over gourmet nachos, tender carnitas tacos, and cervezas. Of course who better would I trust to deliver this experience than the boys from Al Mercato. Since we last invaded their kitchen at the original Al Mercato Ristorante on Sant Eufemia, chef/owners Eugenio Roncoroni and Beniamino Nespoor have been busy bees, opening up two more locations, Noodle Bar and Taco Bar.
Taco Bar has the most authentic gourmet Mexican I’ve had since California, with an interior that feels like a modern, chicano street art space. But even more than their sassy salsas, I was excited to introduce everybody being that these chefs and the lovely Mariachis have something in common: they like to break the rules.
Ten years ago Eugenio and Beniamino started out with a gangster menu full of offal (internal organs), a pretty hard sell at the time for finicky Milanese diners, but with a couple of tweaks to their concept, they opened minds and palates, changing up the game in the local food scene.
Then, from Brooklyn, New York, forget everything you think you know about mariachi bands because The Mariachi Flor de Toloache is an all-girls band wearing costumes and playing a style of music that is generally reserved for men, a controversial choice based on the decidedly machismo Latino culture. Obviously the chefs and the girls seem to be on to something as their rogue ways have paid off, translating into new restaurant concepts for the chefs and a Latin Grammy nomination for the girls.
Tasting tequila (as we’ll call it) with chef Beniamino, I noticed the girls seemed to be taking awhile to arrive from when I called them in the taxi, when like a snap of sexy electricity, the girls walked in, complete with their instruments. Hey gurrrls. After an intimate cross-cultural catch-up and taco feast with the CGC crew, Beniamino, and the band, the entire restaurant was treated to a private concert like no one had seen before. The ladies were on fire, catching the attention of Saturday night wanderers passing by in Navigli.
The concert: Mariachi Flor de Toloache play Alcatraz in Milan.
After raising the roof at Taco Bar it was even cooler to see them on stage two days later in all their glory at Alcatraz and then playing with The Arcs, the band created by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Some backstage shenanigans after the show accompanied by more cervezas with the bands, and we bid farewell, wishing them luck before they jetted off to Las Vegas for the Latin Grammys.
The visit was short and sweet but inspiring. Getting artists together, whether it’s chefs or musicians, the medium becomes secondary to the philosophies shared. There is a common thread upon which we all operate, a way that we see the world and hear the rules…and then take joint pleasure in breaking them, curating our own microcosm that we can’t help but share with all of you.
My advice? Learn the rules, then make your own.
Mariachi Flor de Toloache
Mireya Ramos vocals, violin, guitarron
Jacquelene Acevado percussion
Lisa Maree Dowling bass, guitarron
Claudia Valentina vihuela, guitar, vocals, jarana
Jackie Coleman trumpet
Luisa Bastidas violin
Domenica Fossati flute
Anna Garcia trumpet
Shae Fiol vocals, vihuela
Special thanks Al Mercato Taco Bar
Special thanks Mariachi Flor de Toloache
Photography by Simone Martucci
Production by Camila Salles