After 16 years of developing Frutilandia, a dessert chain that sells “favorite Latin treats,” according to its website, Gilbert’s Garfio family has found another sweet spot with their first all-savory restaurant.
Located on Arizona Avenue just north of downtown Chandler, Taqueria Factory opened in June.
Based on customer demand, the fast-casual concept was a natural offshoot of Frutilandia, says Gamaliel Garfio, who co-owns the business with his wife Maria Garfio. While Frutilandia’s menu includes a few snacks like hot dogs and Sonora burgers, around 80% of the menu is fresh fruit desserts.
“A lot of people would come in wanting to order tacos and burritos and things that we don’t have on the Frutilandia menu,” he says.
So the duo decided to create something new. Hailing from Sinaloa, Garfio says he and Jalisco-native Maria have blended their regional flavors.
“One of our main goals is to make sure that we really satisfy the taste buds of the Hispanic community,” he says, given that 60% of their clientele is Latino. “We’re the hardest to please because we know what a real taco should look like.”
The Garfios’ three adult children, Briana, Fernando and Gabriel, also took part in the launch of the new restaurant. Fernando manages, Briana helps with social media, marketing and advertising, and Gabriel, a chef with a full-time job elsewhere, helped fine-tune the recipes.
“So the whole family really got involved in this great project,” says Garfio. He adds that they put their heart into their recipes, all based on what they eat at home.
“You get what you see on our kitchen table served in our restaurant,” he says.
That means they use high-quality meats, produce, and spices, fry their fries daily, and make everything on-site, from guacamole to salsas to horchata. The tortillas are freshly made each morning by a Tempe supplier and contain no preservatives.
Taqueria Factory offers favorites like tacos, burritos, small and large quesadillas and super nachos. The menu also features mulitas, a meat and cheese dish between two flat corn or flour tortillas, and crispy vampiros.
Proteins include carne asada, birria, pollo and al pastor, the last two of which are both marinated for a day or more. The family is particularly proud of the birria, served in tacos to be dipped in a soup loaded with spices.
“It’s a very special dish that we prepare,” says Garfio, adding that his aunt Rosa, who has worked with the family for 15 years, lent them her recipe.
Garfio notes that they wanted to keep the menu simple and easy to navigate, “to kind of be the In-N-Out of tacos.” They also offer a “keto” option that replaces the tortilla with a cheesy crisp in a taco or quesadilla.
The drink menu includes draft and bottled beer, micheladas, margaritas, and the special Mangonada Borracha, a mango smoothie with fresh fruit, Chamoy, tajín, and tequila. Garfio says his son Fernando is the “michelada master” who created his own blend using a dozen ingredients.
“One thing I always struggled to find was a good michelada in a restaurant or bar,” says Fernando. “I’m the designated michelada guy at parties.”
The margaritas are excellent, made with real lime juice and agave syrup, flavored with fruit purees and Frutilandia syrups. Happy hour runs from 2-6 p.m. on weekdays, offering $1 off any alcoholic drink.
The bright, modern space, filled with metal chairs and bar stools, teal cubicles, and TV screens, seats about 75 people, and there’s an outdoor bar with a dozen seats overlooking the kitchen. But since opening in June, the response has been so overwhelming that the Garfios are tearing down a wall to grab the adjoining suite.
They own the entire 14,000 square foot building, which once housed a Walgreens. With a capacity of approximately 35 people, the extra space will serve as additional seating from Friday to Sunday and as private or corporate meeting space the rest of the week. Once the renovation is complete, the Garfios plan to hold a grand opening, which they will announce on social media.
Frutilandia, meanwhile, has eight locations, including the headquarters adjacent to Taqueria Factory, a franchise in Gilbert and Southern Roads that Briana owns, and six other franchises in the Valley. As with Frutilandia, the Garfios plan to sell Taqueria Factory franchises.
“We knew we were building something special,” says Garfio, “but our expectations were exceeded by the response from the local community.”
55 East Ray Road, Chandler
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.