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Hello! My name is Elias Ballinas, and ever since I was young I’ve been passionate about good food. My family back in Mexico City (Originally from Puebla) always had the best tacos and tortas in the area, so you could say that an understanding of flavor came to me naturally. Over the years, a simple love of eating and cooking grew into an appreciation of how a restaurant should operate. This included ensuring the happiness of both employees and customers, and that the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitation were always met.

Shortly after I became part of the highly competitive restaurant industry in New York City in 1997, I had the honor to work as the right-hand man of The Pump Energy Food founder Steve Kapelonis. During the course of over a decade working for him, I learned a lot more about good food, but perhaps even more importantly, I was shown how to inspire and motivate people to work together in a harmonious team environment.


Left to right Chef Aarón Sánchez co-star of Food Network’s hit series, Chopped, and the host of Cooking Channel’s Taco Trip and Elias Ballinas owner of Cinco de Mayo Authentic Mexican Cuisine.

After opening 5 restaurants in the city, Steve sold his brand to Adam Eskin, who subsequently changed its name to Dig Inn Seasonal Market (and headlined several financial publications recently with an acclaimed $15 million fundraising venture). Rapidly expanding, Dig Inn now has 10 locations in the city and always makes good food a priority, but also places emphasis on a farm-to-table philosophy. Until last week, I was part of the Dig Inn management team, a role that increased my understanding of restaurant operations even further.

Perhaps not as glamorous, but equally important in my professional experience was two years I spent in my family’s business in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Here at Tacos El Bronco Restaurant we also managed food trucks, and further increased our community popularity through the local press. A half page spread in the New York Times Sunday edition, mention in The Reporter, an article in Food Network Magazine, and finally, an appearance on the nationally syndicated Cooking Channel TV show Taco Trip with Aaron Sanchez provided me with the encouragement and motivation to take my love affair with the food I grew up with even further.

I decided to open up my own place, Cinco de Mayo Authentic Mexican Food, in an area where there is not much real, traditional Mexican food. With the support of my family (many of whom have worked with me in the past) and the enthusiasm of all Mexican food lovers, I am confident that my restaurant will be a big hit.

Why Cinco de Mayo? Not many people know what happened on that fifth of May in Mexico long ago, much less about General Ignacio Zaragoza. But the one thing that people across the world know is that it’s a day to be celebrated with great food. Welcome to Cinco De Mayo!