ST. LOUIS — Take Root Hospitality (TRH), the restaurant group from Michael and Tara Gallina and Aaron Martinez, is set to open Taqueria Morita in the gardenside pavilion space at Vicia, located at 4260 Forest Park Ave., on May 26.
This is TRH's first new restaurant since the Gallinas added Martinez as a partner and rebranded the restaurant group in February. TRH already owns and runs Winslow's Table and Vicia.
Taqueria Morita is inspired by Martinez's Mexican heritage and will feature items such as tacos and other seasonal dishes with local vegetables at the center of the menu.
"We're so excited to introduce a concept based around our favorite Mexican flavors," Martinez said in a statement. "But make no mistake — this restaurant is not your typical taco joint. It's done in a very TRH way with sophisticated dishes using top quality ingredients, many of which were grown and picked right here in our garden."
Martinez will serve as head chef of the new restaurant, and as with TRH's existing restaurant Vicia, the menu at Taqueria Morita will change seasonally. Dishes may include achiote cauliflower with garlic mojo, cilantro and almond sikil pak; red beet tostadas with horseradish, cilantro, chili toreados and smoked cashew pipian; and oyster mushroom tacos with red onion, requeson, and peanut salsa macha.
Diners will find morita chiles, which are richly flavored chili peppers that inspired the restaurant's name, on nearly every menu.
Phil Ingram will serve as bar manager, and the drink program will include signature margaritas, custom beer from Rockwell Beer Co., and wine on draft.
Local design firm SPACE Architecture + Design worked on the outdoor restaurant, which can seat 56. Half the patio is under a covered awning and the other half is on the lower level of the pavilion. The additional garden space will feature edible plantings, colorful flowers, apple and pear trees, and several other sustainable plants. Matt Lebon of Custom Foodscaping also worked on the space.
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