For PAZ Taqueria Y Cantina’s Chef and Owner, Michael Reyes, the idea of mixing art, culture, food and fun isn’t just smart business, but a way of life. It’s where “cultura meets cuisine”.
Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Reyes has been in the restaurant business for 35 years. He’s opened eateries nationwide ranging from German, Korean and Japanese to Mexican food. Because of his Latin roots and love of Asian cuisine, Reyes says, “I have a Chino-Latino style of cooking. Lots of Asian spices and chiles.”
Reyes came to Arizona 11 years ago “and started opening restaurants for other people. They were the money people and I was just the guy who executed.” PAZ first solo venture came in 2010 when he and his partner, opened a Filipino food truck, which eventually evolved in PAZ Cantina on Roosevelt and Third Street.
“PAZ is a cultura and cuisine concept. I say cultura because we have a beautiful footprint on this unique corner that we’ve been beautifying and investing in since we arrived 9 months ago. All my flavors come from my mother, father and grandparents. We’ve been able to Chicanofy the corner.”
Reyes’ timing could not have been better. The Valley’s economy is on an upswing, Roosevelt has become a major art and food hotspot in the past several years, Arizona State University’s downtown campus and the adjacent University of Arizona campuses are rapidly expanding and more people are opting to live downtown.
Visitors to PAZ are immediately struck by the restaurant’s creative vibe. In recent months, the spot has hosted live music, mural painting, business networking mixers, and a Mexican “Lucha Libre” wrestling competition. The restaurant walls are lined with the work of local artists.
“We love having original artwork on the walls, especially local talent, and for every piece of art sold here every penny goes to the artist,” said Reyes. “Helping Latino art in every form take root, bloom and spread is an important part of who we are as a business and a member of the community. We have a story to tell and our story is American with Latin roots.”