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El Jefe's Taqueria Comes to Harvard Square

Tacos until 4 a.m., anyone?

El Jefe's Taqueria interior
El Jefe's Taqueria interior

A new spot serving Mexican street food is now open in Harvard Square, according to Boston Magazine. El Jefe's Taqueria moved into The Taco Truck's old space (83 Mt. Auburn St.) and will start offering late-night service until 4 a.m. today.

The restaurant is the latest venture from John Schall, the founder of Fire + Ice, a made-to-order stir fry restaurant. Schall filed for a corporation called SFJ Group, LLC at the Mt. Auburn Street address in May.

El Jefe's menu features a range of tacos and burritos, plus fajita and burrito bowls, soups, and salads. The restaurant has a self-serve "picante bar" for hot sauces, and extras like guacamole or plantains are free add-ons. It's open from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. daily.

UPDATE, 10/21/15: As of now, El Jefe's is operating from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. John Schall told Eater there were some little things left to do around the restaurant and it would be about a week until it opens for breakfast at 8 a.m. Eventually, Schall also hopes El Jefe's will incorporate delivery services.

Schall, who lives in the Harvard Square neighborhood, said he had two goals for El Jefe's. First, he wanted to provide patrons with clear pricing, where additional toppings did not mean additional charges. Second, he wanted to create a place where people could get quality, authentic Mexican food for all three meals — and late at night.

To help with that, he turned to two talented chefs: Paulo Lucas, who is from Brazil, and Fidencio Saavedra, who is from Mexico. Both have worked with Schall for about eight years, since he bought Fire + Ice in 2007.

"I never fully utilized both their incredible skills," Schall said. Now, he has a chance to do so at El Jefe's, with a varied menu that includes some flare of his own. The two soups — spicy black bean and chicken tortilla — are Schall's own recipes. But he credits Lucas and Saavedra with creating the authentic Mexican taqueria he dreamed of bringing to Harvard Square.

"It really is a high quality dining experience," and one where people won't get nickel-and-dimed, Schall said. He wants to make sure the "extras aren't extra," that the guacamole, the plantains, and the cheese all remain free additions to a base-priced burrito or taco. And if El Jefe's can do that into the wee hours of the morning, Schall said that would be a good thing to be known for.