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Legacy lives on in every bite

Ceviche de Cameron: shrimp on tostadas

Tavo’s Antojitos y Tequila 

425 Merchants Rd., Rochester 


As I stepped into Tavo’s Antojitos y Tequila in the North Winton Village neighborhood, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of anticipation. 

Many call it a carbon copy of the celebrated El Rincón Mexicano, a restaurant in Sodus known for its authentic regional dishes. That place closed last November after its owner, María Peña Rodríguez, retired. However, Rodríguez’s son Jose Guevara wasted no time and opened Tavo’s with the same beloved menu. 

Despite its limited online presence and marketing, Tavo’s has built a formidable reputation through word-of-mouth recommendations. It didn’t take long for me to understand why. 

El Rincón was well known for its cozy and welcoming atmosphere—and long waits due to its small dining room. In contrast, Tavo’s boasts a larger size while preserving that family-oriented ambiance. The restaurant offers a spacious patio with cornhole, a giant Connect Four game, and live music.

The goal, Guevara says, is to allow guests to relax, chat with friends, and savor their food without feeling rushed.

The inviting and colorful interior of Tavo’s Antojitos y Tequila

While there are sometimes minor delays for the food, waiting does little to dampen the positive dining experience. It’s easy to sip on a smoked pineapple margarita ($12) or dirty horchata ($12) at the bustling bar and take in the atmosphere. 

From the luscious dome of the signature guacamole ($10) embellished with chili oil, crema, and pumpkin seeds to the delectable crunch of the crispy flautas ($14), everything is made from scratch using Rodríguez’s recipes. Guevara shares that true Mexican cuisine is elaborate and time consuming to make. Dishes like tamales, mole, and chile relleno demand days of preparation by a team of skilled hands. 

“There’s a group of us sitting in the kitchen peeling peppers, and we chat,” he explains, describing the comradery of working with his team. “We’re all working together and it’s communal. When you have your end product, it’s time to enjoy.”

When Rodríguez opened the original location in Sodus, the idea was to bring authentic Mexican food to the migrants working in the area. In a region accustomed to Tex-Mex, it took her years to teach the nonmigrant customers how to eat the real thing. 

Guevara now carries the torch, ensuring that Tavo’s remains a bastion of this culinary legacy in the city. 

“I have a whole new batch of people I’m teaching about real Mexican food,” he laughs. And he’s ready to take on the helm. He worked alongside his family at El Rincón and opened El Rincón 2—now Rio Tomatlan—in Canandaigua with his brother Rafael. 

One notable distinction that sets Tavo’s apart from other Mexican establishments is the sheer variety offered on its menu. Those come from regional specialties of the same dish. You can get enchiladas five different ways—served with dark mole, tomatillo salsa verde, or crimson guajillo chile sauce. Each option faithfully represents its place of origin. 

If you are torn between choices, I recommend the enchiladas tres amigos ($21). It’s three rolled corn tortillas blanketed by bands of velvety mole poblano, mole verde, and chipotle sauce. It’s familiar enough, but the two kinds of savory, spicy, and slightly sweet mole are richer and more complex than the typical red chile style.

This dish holds special significance since it’s Rodríguez’s specialty. Even in retirement, she continues to prepare mole for the restaurant.


The enchilada verdes ($18) is another dish unique to Tavo’s. The corn tortillas are folded in half open-face style, topped with protein—I opted for chicken—then smothered with a zippy tomatillo salsa verde. The variation, native to Rodríguez’s home region of Jalisco, feels much lighter than the bubbly baked version and has crumbled cotija rather than melty Monterey Jack. 

Guevara says it’s fun to surprise people who might have preconceived notions of Mexican food.

“Mexico is huge, and every part of the country cooks differently, just like we do here,” he says. For example, his dad, Gustavo, after whom the restaurant is named, is from northern Mexico and grew up with flour tortillas. Rodríguez is from the west coast and only ever had corn. So, on the menu, you’ll find tacos made with corn, burritos made with flour, and quesadillas made with a mix of both.

Rodríguez also grew up eating seafood, which plays a prominent role on the menu. My personal favorite is the citrusy shrimp ceviche tostadas ($15) served with creamy sliced avocado and chili oil. Mexican food aficionados will also recognize the kinds of haddock and cabbage one might find on the beaches of San Diego ($18), or the garlicky shrimp over rice ($23) popular in Puerto Vallarta. 

But Guevara is already putting his spin on the restaurant, starting with the vibrant, lighthearted decor. Guests will notice the colorful papel picado garlands strung around the space and expressive paintings of Mexican stars he grew up with, like singer Vicente Fernández. 

“This place is an extension of me, and I don’t like being serious,” he says. “I want you to have a good time and enjoy your life.” 

To be sure, while the menu is the same for now, Guevara is doing something new. Some day he wants to have a food truck and introduce items to the menu that he doesn’t even know how to make yet. 

I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into whatever he comes up with next.

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