Rolling out of town

Locally owned East Austin taco shop suddenly closes after 6 years

Locally owned East Austin taco shop suddenly closes after 6 years

El Chilito
El Chilito is the second restaurant El Chile Group has lost to the pandemic. Photo by Jane Ko

A locally owned taco shop is closing after six years on the east side, effective immediately. 

El Chilito, the faster, even more casual offshoot of the fast-casual El Chile, is closing its location at 1627 E. Seventh St. at 3 pm on Friday, January 15. El Chile Group, the restaurant's owner, announced the shutter just an hour before doors were set to close. 

El Chile Group COO Orlando Sanchez blamed effects of the ongoing pandemic as the reason for the closure.

“Over the last few months we have worked to keep this location alive but due to the prolonged lack of commuter traffic, downtown business and business lunch catering, it is just no longer viable to keep the doors open," Sanchez said in the announcement. 

El Chilito's other locations on Manor Road and Menchacha will remain open for takeout, delivery, and some limited outdoor seating, the company said. A third El Chilito location on Burnet Road closed in 2018.

This isn't the only restaurant El Chile Group has lost to the pandemic. In May 2020, Peruvian restaurant Yuyo permanently shuttered citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a May release, El Chile founder Carlos Rivera talked about the restaurant he opened alongside his sister, chef Maribel Rivero, saying: “Introducing Peruvian food with a Texas flair to Austin was a labor of love for Maribel and me. However, this pandemic environment has proven insurmountable for our developing concept." 

Diners can also visit sister restaurants El Alma, on Barton Springs Road, and El Chile, also on Manor Road. Both those concepts are open for takeout, delivery, and socially distanced dine-in service. El Alma is also offering a monthly subscription service called El Alma at Home.