Oral History Spotlight: Fabián León

Fabian
Fabián León. Photo by Delilah Snell.

Fabián León attended the University of Louisville, intending to return to his family’s business. But in 2014, Fabián opened The Ville Taquería, in honor of the University of Louisville nickname, where he sells tacos and tortas (sandwiches) along with his own creations like a bourbonrita, a margarita using bourbon instead of tequila.

The Ville is a test kitchen of sorts where Fabián works to convince his father that El Caporal (his father’s flagship restaurant) needs to change with evolving tastes. “I told him, ‘Look, twenty-five years is a good run. It’s time to redefine what you’re doing and let’s do it again.’”

Fabián León talks about introducing more alta cocina (higher-end) dishes involving tequila glazes and special salsas. While part of his heart remains in Chicago, he also sees Louisville and the South as a land of opportunities for Latinos.

It’s really changed throughout the years. You see more and more hispanos. And, they [native Southerners] can’t do anything. They have to accept you, or turn their back on you, and I don’t think that they can turn their backs on us anymore. It’s accept us and embrace us and. . . live amongst us.”

Find Fabián’s story, and many more, in our recent oral history project, Bluegrass & Birria, by Gustavo Arellano.