Mama Lu’s is a taco-slinging, modern day taco shop and bar in the heart of Traverse City’s downtown neighborhood. Executive Chef John Larson’s menu is driven by authentic Mexican street food grounded in a fresh ‘made to order’ tortilla. The affordable menu is complemented by well-crafted Margaritas and an unpretentious collection of beer, wine & spirits. The intimate 40 seat taco shop draws inspiration from bygone borderland watering holes to create a place where people from all walks of life can converge over cold libations, “hit the spot” cuisine & warm hospitality. A true fixture in the community, the fun & energetic vibes offer a destination for both date nights and family dining alike.

One may ask, who is Mama Lu?

Mama Lu is John’s Great Grandmother who resides in El Paso Texas. John, having spent many summers and several years after college living in the Southwest borderland, grew fond of the Hispanic culture and his unique relationship with Mexico. As a kid his grandmother would take him over the border to experience the culture and cuisine. It was those summers spent in the Southwest that John became passionate about Hispanic food, particularly their flavorful and accessible tacos.


Chef John cooks with a true craftsman approach, and has more than a 15 years of dedicated experience, allowing him to create refined and balanced flavor combinations with a modern perspective. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute in New York City, he was bitten by the travel bug, moving all over the United States including the Arizona, San Diego, Florida & Chicago. In his travels, John gained experience at several renowned restaurants, including James Beard Award Winning Restaurant Janos, The Ritz Carlton & Michelin Bib Gourmand winner Gemini Bistro. With a passion and close attention to detail, Chef John focuses on bringing gourmet food & attentive service to his guests in an unpretentious and upbeat atmosphere.

A Hospitality Business graduate from Michigan State University (GO GREEN!), Adrienne has always had a passion for the food & beverage industry. She too moved all over the country after school working in Arizona, Seattle, Florida & Chicago. Adrienne’s experience is in Front of House Operations as well as restaurant finance & accounting. She met John while living in a small costal Florida town, where they continued their travels to the mid-west and ultimately Traverse City, MI.

Upon moving to Traverse City, John and Adrienne reminisced about their favorite spots they’ve found throughout their travels of the U.S, and that is when Mama Lu’s was born. Drawing upon their skills obtained over the years in the hospitality industry, the two decided that their first business venture together would be a taco shop.

Adrienne & John welcomed their daughter Vera in 2013 and son Cass in 2016. They live downtown Traverse City with Vera, Cass, their dog Larry, cat Nautica, and enjoy biking around town, hitting the beach in the summer and embracing the snowy winters.

Chef Dallas Dziedzic
Chef de Cuisine

Dallas has worked in kitchens since he was a kid, starting as a dishwasher at a local bar in his hometown of Suttons Bay. His first entries into the restaurant industry is a far cry from where he is today. Dallas came on board in 2017 and leads the kitchen as Mama Lu’s Chef de Cuisine. Dallas has years of experience cooking in professional kitchens, from Chicago's The Pump Room to Seattle’s W Hotel as well as Brimmer & Heeltap. His high energy level, passion for food, and creative approach to ingredients local to Northern Michigan make him a vital part of our team. With a true talent to mentor, he is constantly leading his team by elevating creativity as well as teaching and training on new techniques and flavor combinations. His innovative approach makes him an invaluable member of our culinary team.

Outside of work, you’ll find him spending time with his family, getting inspired by local food, and drinking whiskey and cheap beer. Dallas lives in Traverse City with his wife Heather. They welcomed their first son Vincent in June 2018.
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