Street Taco opened at Marietta Square Market on North Marietta Parkway in late March, making it the first restaurant to debut in the new 18,500-square-foot food hall, often compared to Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market in Atlanta.
The casual counter service taqueria is the newest concept from Southern Proper Hospitality, the group behind a wide variety of restaurants, including the Southern Gentleman and Gypsy Kitchen in Buckhead, Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails in Milton, and multiple Tin Lizzy’s Cantina locations around metro Atlanta.
At Street Taco, Southern Proper Hospitality promises “authentic and adventurous Mexican street food.” And while the menu is centered on an assortment of smaller, street-size tacos, such as Baja fish, blackened shrimp, al pastor, chicken tinga, and smoked brisket, there are plenty of other items on offer, too.
Starters, snacks and sides include street corn, chicken flautas, guacamole, queso and chips and salsa, as well as salads, a soup of the day, dirty rice and charred broccoli. Daily specials range from burritos and “garbage can” nachos to gorditas and tamales.
The full-service bar at Street Taco is one of only two spots at Marietta Square Market where you can purchase adult beverages. There are margaritas, of course, plus frozen drinks, draft and canned beer, and a small selection of wines by the glass.
The former warehouse space features a colorful original mural from Mexican street artist Neuzz on the back wall, and is notable for having the only dedicated dining room at the market. The shared patio is located directly below the CSX train tracks, which along with a steady stream of Mexican and Latin music, adds to the energy.
Last week, Alex Curley, COO of Southern Proper Hospitality, sat down at Street Taco to talk about the concept, and how it fits with the rest of the group’s restaurant portfolio.
“I like to think of us first and foremost as a hospitality group,” Curley said. “And our culture and our philosophy is that hospitality is any way and anywhere we can touch guests. So if we do the same thing everywhere, we’re touching the same guests. In a lot of new ventures we’re doing, we’re trying to bring our culture and hospitality to new groups of people.
“Last year, we opened up a hotel in Asheville, and we were able to touch another group. That was very exciting for us. With the fast casual world, it’s that, again. There are a lot of people who love this style of dining, and love this pace of experience, and they’re not necessarily the people that are coming into our other 23 restaurants.”
Describing the menu, Curley said it was a slightly different approach compared with other things the group had done.
“We were looking for the culinary culture that surrounds Mexican street food, in the same respect that a tapa is a dish, but in reality, it’s about a dining culture,” he said. “We were trying to identify with food that would help capture the feeling of being on a street in Mexico. Food that’s fun, and easy to eat, with fresh ingredients, and not too dramatic flavor profiles.
“We have a modern Baja Mexican restaurant in Buckhead called Chido and Padre’s. We have Tin Lizzy’s, which is obviously way over towards the other side. And so we wanted to do something a little culturally different with this menu.”
Speaking about the space and location, Curley noted that it was an equally important component in the overall concept.
“For a restaurant to work, everything has to be balanced,” he said. “The food, the vibe, the location, the music, everything. The reason I was attracted to this space was that it all did come together. We have this environment where we have these trains going by every once in a while. The patio opens straight out onto a busy street. And the Neuzz mural works with what we’re trying to achieve as far as capturing the color and energy of Mexican street art in its rawest form.
“I live in Marietta, and I was drawn to the energy around the square, and around other neighborhood social hubs, like downtown Alpharetta. People are being drawn towards these hubs of activity, and it’s awesome to see that people in Marietta were longing for that, as well. I think the market was able to give them that. And we’ve been able to use this space to accentuate that experience.”
68 N. Marietta Parkway NW, Suite 106, Marietta. 678-823-8700, streettacoatl.com.
Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Street Taco at the Marietta Square Market
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