“It was nice to basically get a refresher and say, ‘That’s why I love this kind of food. That’s why I want to open this kind of restaurant,’” said Frankie Little of his recent multi-state taco tour.
Beginning with stops in New Orleans, Little and pal Roy Clark meandered about the highways and byways testing taco trucks and brick-and-mortars all the way through Houston and San Antonio, Texas, until reaching the target destination of Austin. What sounds to many fellow taco lovers like a dream vacation was actually more of a research and development mission for his new restaurant, Rooster’s Latin American Food.
Coming to 211 Dauphin St. near the A & M Peanut Shop, the Rooster’s menu reads like an authentic taco stand with a little more to it. Renovations are still underway, but things are shaping up. No grand opening has been set as of now, but we can expect tacos just after the first of the year.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that our explorers, Little and Clark, embarked on their journey. Between the two of them they ate 55 tacos in seven days, not to mention an assortment of burritos, tortas and soups. “It was great to see the trends. Taco trucks always make better tacos than restaurants. I don’t know what it is,” Little said.
The highlights were Taqueria Sanchez, a New Orleans taco truck. Another truck in Houston sat outside the West Alabama Ice House (on West Alabama Street). In San Antonio friends led them to dinner and breakfast at high-end fusion places but it was Austin, Frankie Little’s former home, that took the cake.
“The Wall Street Journal did an article on the five best places for breakfast burritos in Austin. We just happened to eat at two of those, Veracruz and Valentinas. We had some amazing goat soup. A Tex-Mex barbecue blend had delicious brisket and chicken,” Little said.
Of course all of these things will help shape the Rooster’s menu.
“Nothing is set in stone, but I’d say the menu is about 90 percent there,” he said. “The actual menu in the restaurant will be on chalkboards. Taylor Atchison, who is the project manager turning an old school on Broad Street into apartments, called me and said he had a bunch of old chalkboards in there that were solid slate from the early 1920s. I got three of them.”
A veteran of the Mobile restaurant scene, Little says Rooster’s will be a fast/casual style of restaurant. Maybe “quick service” is a better way to describe it. Diners will order at the counter, and although there isn’t going to be an actual wait staff, they do intend to sell beer and margaritas. Dinner hours may see cashiers who also take on some of the traditional server duties.
Visit the Rooster’s Facebook page to see the posts from the taco tour and keep up to date with the progress of the restaurant. Applications for employment are also being accepted at email@example.com. If there is ever another tour, I’ll be hurt if I’m not invited.