Explore the Culinary Evolution and Authentic Mexican Flavors of Casa de Avila Tacos

By September 1, 2023September 5th, 2023Blog, News Flash, General Economic Development News, Retail
Stephanie and Abraham Avila with a pink Casa de Avila pull-up banner between them

Casa de Avila Tacos is a local sensation, serving delicious and authentic Mexican cuisine to their ever-growing customer base. It started as a small, home venture by Stephanie and Abraham Avila in May 2020. At the time, Abraham, a U.S. Army veteran, was doing contracting work and Stephanie was a full-time nurse, a role she still holds.

“Making tacos is something that was always in the back of my mind,” Stephanie shared. “When the pandemic hit, we realized that life is too short and now is the time to make it happen. We looked at it like ‘if we fail, oh well. At least we tried.’ We just wanted to make sure that before our time is up, we accomplish something that we set ourselves up for, especially for our children. 2020 was full of fear but we saw that fear and kept it moving.”

Pulling from Abraham’s roots in Guadalajara, Mexico and Stephanie’s roots in El Salvador, they began experimenting with different flavor profiles and styles for their tacos, combining recipes from both families. Abraham was familiar with birria since it is used in soups in Guadalajara but neither of them had previously made it.

“Initially, we didn’t even know how to make birria,” Stephanie laughed. “We follow a lot of pages on Instagram of people making birria and I wanted to see if we could do it, too. We combined recipes from our grandmothers but with my take on them.”

Stephanie did a mock version of how the tacos would look and they loved it. They began making tacos on the weekends and shared their fare on social media, which quickly gained popularity. Soon they were receiving orders through Facebook and Instagram. Recognizing the potential of their culinary skills, they pivoted from making tacos as a hobby into a full-fledged business that was about to realize some unique opportunities.

In early 2021, a customer approached Stephanie and told her about the Flavors of the DMV Showcase at FedEx Field for the, then, Washington Football Team. The team opened a competition for local food establishments to showcase their specialties and earn a spot in the stadium during the football season. Pitting their birria against DMV restaurants, food trucks, food stands, and more, the family taqueria emerged victorious in the competition, beating out 20 establishments to become an official NFL gameday vendor.

In June 2021, with their FedEx Field contract pending, the Avilas discovered ChefScape, a Leesburg food and beverage incubator for food startups and expansions. They signed on to become a ChefScape member, launching their first location outside of their home kitchen. Being in a commercial kitchen allows them to expand and refine their product and offers a convenient space for customers to pick up their online orders.

“The consistency of our product is what makes us stand out,” Abraham smiled. “The quality of our food at ChefScape is the same as at the stadium. We send out food like we are feeding our loved ones and we can tell that the customers are happy with us as they travel to Leesburg to check us out after experiencing our food at a game.”

Stephanie and Abraham love the direction that their business is taking. They consistently update their birria recipes and feel they get better every time. They’ve also made it a family-run business. Abraham’s mother and sister have been there from the start and help with the cooking, Stephanie’s mother is a regular contributor, and they often have several other family members to help with staffing. The rice recipe that they serve goes back four generations in Abraham’s family and even their children are getting more involved.

“We’re children of immigrants,” Stephanie reflected. “We’re doing this for our kids and this is the legacy we are leaving behind for them. Casa de Avila grew from just an idea but now we see this in our family’s future. Our son was so happy to make birria with his dad. He actually said that! They see what we’re doing, the sacrifices we make, and we get excited seeing the kids excited.”

The Avilas are looking forward to their next phase of business. They would not only love to get their own brick and mortar, but they also set a goal of owning a food truck so they can get to Fairfax County and back to the people that supported them from the start. As part of their branding strategy, they plan on framing their restaurant and food truck menus with some of Abraham’s mom’s quotes and pictures of their loved ones, especially his grandmother.

“When someone wants something, they should just go for it,” Abraham said. “Just do it. There’s room for everyone. Our biggest competition is ourselves. If we fall asleep behind the wheel, we’ll know it. My mom had choice words for me when I wanted to give up. ‘Get it together’ she said. She’s a small but feisty lady.”

During the 2023-2024 NFL season, Casa de Avila Tacos will have two locations in FedEx Field: B134 on the main concourse level and the DeLeon Platinum Lounge on the club level.