Jacqueline Anaya worked hard to make her popular food truck Calisience a success.
When you remind Jacqueline Anaya that it’s been nearly two years since she announced she was going to open a brick-and-mortar version of her popular birria food truck, Calisience, all she can do is laugh.
“I thought maybe it would take a few months, a year at the most,” she says. “I actually gave myself about a year to get it open. A lot of people thought the pandemic was coming to an end and things would get back to normal.”
But as the pandemic wound down, it unleashed unforeseen aftershocks — a shortage of supplies and building materials and a lack of restaurant workers, causing one stall after another.
All of that is behind her now, though, and Calisience has opened its doors at 2707 Race St., just a few blocks from where her food truck draws sell-out crowds.
The star of Anaya’s menu will remain her tacos dorados and her ramen, both made with her take on birria, a Mexican stew made with any variety of meat (Anaya uses beef). There will be other items, too: quesadillas, street tacos, plus sides of rice and beans and, to drink, strawberry horchata, another one of her signature items. Eventually, there will be a full bar.
Anaya has done much of the work herself in the renovation of the building, which used to house a bar and restaurant called Dino’s Live. She’s had help, yes, of course — friends, family, people she’s hired to do things she’s not qualified to do. But it’s still a practically one-woman show.
She’s been adamant about not working with investors. “The ones I’ve talked to … well, those conversations always end the same way,” she says. “In some way or another, I would have to compromise.”
That’s something that doesn’t really interest her, she says. She did, after all, build Calisience herself, customer by customer, good review by good review, and she did so at the most challenging of times: in the middle of the pandemic. At a time when many people were staying away from restaurants, Calisience became a true success story, with people lined up for hours up on Belknap, where her food truck was parked.
“It’s still a little hard sometimes to wrap my head around it all,” she says. “I don’t think I can put into words how grateful I am for what my customers have done, and now I can’t wait to do it on a whole new level.”
Calisience, 2707 Race St., calisience.com