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    Photo by Jessica Ebelhar

    Con Huevos, 2339 Frankfort Ave. & 4938 U.S. 42

    For Paco Garcia, “living the dream” used to mean working 14-hour days. He’d cook at Harvest in NuLu from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., then walk across the street to Mayan Cafe, where he’d be in the kitchen until 11. Three days a week, he’d take an early-morning ESL class. Plus shifts making food at the Holy Grale. Oh, and GED classes, followed by culinary courses at Jefferson Community and Technical College. “This is not abnormal,” Garcia says. “Mexicans will work a lot of hours. I was so in love with cooking and trying to learn.”

    Garcia was 17 in 2010 when he left Mexico City to come to Louisville and live with his father, who works at Saffron’s Persian Restaurant downtown and in a factory that Garcia says makes “tires for big trucks. My dad, he came here for better opportunities. That’s the same reason I came here. Same as most immigrants.” Garcia’s first-ever restaurant job was washing dishes at Mayan Cafe. Now he’s the chef at Con Huevos, the breakfast-lunch spot on Frankfort Avenue that opened a second location in Holiday Manor this spring. In March, he was named a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Southeast category for the James Beard Awards, basically the culinary world’s Oscars. Customers started to congratulate him. “That’s when I was like, ‘Oh, this seems like something important,’” Garcia says.

    “Con huevos” is Spanish for “with eggs.” The slang interpretation: “with balls.” “Do it with strength,” Garcia says. On his menu, that means soft buttermilk biscuits, chorizo and poached eggs, all drowning in a spicy chipotle gravy; corn tortilla chips with tomatillo salsa, crema, pickled onions and queso fresco, topped with sunny-side-up eggs; thick pancakes with tres leches sauce, whipped cream and fruit. The huevos rancheros come with an avocado mousse. “When you put it on the plate, I want three specific dots, and I want them the same size,” Garcia says with a smile, the braces on his teeth making him look younger than his 25 years. “I’m that kind of person that likes to be a perfectionist. This is my art.”

    Garcia has many tattoos: whisk, spatula, chef’s knife. A toque hides behind his right ear. “I’m going to be a chef the rest of my life, so tattoos are OK,” he says.

    To see more Critic's Choices, click here.

    This originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine as a Best of Louisville Critic's Choice winner. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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