Nate Gutierrez has lived south of the James River for more than 10 years, so it was only a matter of time before he brought one of his taco joints to his neck of the woods. The third iteration of Don't Look Back, which Gutierrez co-owns with business partner Hamooda Shami, began serving tacos and margaritas on Monday.
The original location in Carytown developed a dedicated following, and swaths of taco lovers were devastated when Don't Look Back closed its doors following a fire last summer. Much to everyone's delight, the team relocated the concept to a larger space in Scott's Addition, which opened in May, with the promise of another one south of the river.
"My family and friends always eat around here, so why not have a taco place here as well?" Gutierrez says. As a father of two children who tend to pick Chik-Fil-A over anything else, he says he doesn't get out as often as he might like. But he notes that the area has seen more locally owned restaurants in recent years, and he loves supporting independent spots in the neighborhood like Galley.
His space is smaller than the flagship on Broad, cozy and comfortable.
"I imagine it as a place where you can bring your kids after a T-ball tame, hang out with your family at night," he says. "The one in Scott's Addition is definitely a lot more hustling and bustling."
As for the menu, specials will vary from one location to the other, but guests can expect consistency between the two. First-week specials on the South Side have included a chicken skin taco and a pork pibil taco, featuring crispy marinated pork shoulder served traditional-style with cilantro, red onion and lime, plus crumbly queso fresco. All tacos are available with traditional toppings or gringo-style, with cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa, and diners can choose between doubled-up corn tortillas or those of the flour variety.
Also on the menu are the old standbys like nachos, burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas, plus a salad and the beloved Frito pie, featuring beans and gringo taco fixings served in a Fritos bag.
Are these dishes reminiscent of the tacos you'd find at a road stand in Guadalajara? Probably not. But Gutierrez says that's not the point. He just wants to make and serve food that tastes good.
"I grew up in Santa Fe, and I make food that tastes like what I grew up with," Gutierrez says. "I'm not trying to be the most authentic taco in Richmond. I'm just trying to make food that I love making and eating."
Don't Look Back South
7542 Forest Hill Ave.
Every day 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.