Over the last five years the taco has risen from a street food art to a refined restaurant dish. Taquerías like El Pastor, Corozon (both in London), and Gringo’s in New York, have provided intelligent design as a back-drop for the moreish – yet inexpensive – corn snack.

Now, the humble taco itself has provided the design inspiration for a conceptual restaurant on one of the busiest streets in Mexico city, Avenida de los Insurgentes. Esrawe Studio looked to the circular tortilla, as well as its mosaic-like repetition for the interior architecture of the restaurant, to reinterpret the essence of traditional Mexican taquerías. Circular white wall tiles modulate across the walls and bar, denoting the infinite ways a tortilla can be geometrically folded.

Inside El Califa, taco restaurant in Mexico City

Inside El Califa, designed by Esrawe Studio. Photography: Camila Cossio. © El Califa

The open kitchen generates a link between, the diner, the taquero and the tacos – so the street food origins of the cuisine haven’t been left in the cold. But everything else has been elevated: the service is smooth, the bespoke furniture comfortable, and the beer list lengthy. The menu itself features all the classics (bistec, costilla, guacamole made to order) – there’s nothing outlandish here, just old school tacos, crafted and finessed by talented chefs.

Outside, a glass wall opens the restaurant up to a view of the bustling street, and invites passers by in. The transparent wall means that the oscillating pattern of tortilla envelopes scales the façade – a latticework that functions as a transition between the restaurant and the city.