The Ville Taqueria’s chef adds twists to Mexican menu



Fabian Leon’s interest in cooking was fanned by his mother, uncles, aunt and grandmother. He was also a voracious reader of cookbooks. But it was from working in his father’s El Caporal restaurants, two in Louisville and one in Crestwood, that he became enamored of the restaurant business.Since venturing out and opening The Ville Taqueria, 3922 Westport Road, in September, Leon is establishing his own identity without thinking of himself as his father’s competitor.”I opened my own restaurant because I wanted to make tortillas in-house and to do some things that are not typical of local Mexican restaurants,” he says. “I think people are ready for what we’re doing.”One of his original objectives was to create a simple menu so that guests can make quick decisions. He offers two varieties of tacos — street-style, made with cilantro and onion; and CLT, made with cheese, lettuce and tomato. There are three burritos, two quesadillas and three tortas. Diners may choose from various kinds of beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, fish, vegetable and breakfast fillings for each dish.Some of his cooking reflects the cuisine of the Jalisco state in Mexico. But he’s careful that he doesn’t become too closely identified with any region or style of cooking. “I like to twist my food with seasonings and other things that are atypical of Mexican cooking,” says the chef. “I fix my barbacoa, which is braised brisket, with Dos Equis XX. That’s kind of neat because it’s not traditionally done with beer.”

The Ville Taqueria’s carnitas are unusually rich and full-bodied with the addition of bourbon. Leon doesn’t confine himself to Kentucky’s most renowned spirit. He also likes to experiment with rum, vodka, gin and tequila in the restaurant’s food and drinks. His margaritas use tequila, bourbon, triple sec, cognac and brandy. “I use El Jimador, one of the best-selling tequilas in Mexico, because it’s part of Brown-Forman,” he says. “And I use Old Forester in my Bourbon Ritas. I try to keep it all local.”