Johns Hopkins University has unveiled a new fast-casual dining option, Butterfly Tacos y Tortas, which features the authentic flavors of Mexican street cuisine and the culinary prowess of renowned chef José Andrés.
Located in Levering's dining hall, Butterfly takes its recipes from Andrés' full-service restaurant Oyamel, whose monarch butterfly theme inspired the name. The menu features taqueria staples prepared with the same level of authenticity found at Andrés' award-winning Washington, D.C. location.
Taco fillings include Yucatan-style barbecued pork, marinated chicken, beef in smoky Chile sauce, and vegetarian Taco Hongos, filled with grilled mushrooms marinated in Maggi sauce topped with housemade salsa serrano and guacamole. Tortas include Torta de Hongos and a Torta Pollo Milanese, a crispy breaded chicken breast with black beans, cilantro, Oaxaca cheese, guacamole, and salsa serrano.
According to Mayu Horie, director of quality assurance at Andrés' creative team ThinkFoodGroup, the menu items at Butterfly are tailored to reproduce the flavors found at Oyamel in a new environment, including fresh tortillas and salsa made in house every day.
"The tradition, the history, the research you find in our recipes, we want to be able to share that with everyone. We've already done the work," Horie said. "We want to be authentic and really celebrate Mexican food, without being intimidating."
Butterfly offers gluten-free options including corn tortillas, as well as a selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Ian Magowan, senior manager of dining programs at Hopkins, said that conversations with Andrés began in the fall, and they quickly selected Butterfly as the best-fit concept for Hopkins.
"We try to ask ourselves, how can we promote food diversity on campus with a cuisine that we hadn't really touched on before?" Magowan said. "Tacos and the street food culture in Mexico are an important part of the world cuisine, and we saw this as a really good opportunity to tap into that."
Andrés' restaurant group manages 31 restaurants, including a two-star Michelin restaurant and four of Michelin's Bib Gourmands, granted to restaurants that combine great taste with great value. In addition to his work in the culinary world, Andrés is known for his humanitarian work and advocacy for immigration reform. In 2012 and 2018, he was named one of Times "100 Most Influential People," and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen served more than 3.5 million meals in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
The opening of Butterfly is the latest component in the revitalization of the Levering Hall dining options. Changes began in August with a remodeling of Levering Cafe, updated options at the Grill and Wok food stations, and a partnering with Baltimore-based City Seeds. Butterfly will operate under the same model as the other stations in Levering Kitchens and will accept J-cards, credit, and cash. The restaurant is open to the campus community from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.