Holy Taco has its own trinity: Tacos, tequila, and a great space.
With only eight tacos and a handful of sides, diners at the Holy Taco have a clear purpose. The decision from the expansive tequila menu isn’t as easy.
It’s the newest eatery from Chris and Tim Housler, whose Housler Restaurant Group properties include perennial Kalamazoo favorites Main Street Pub, Fletcher’s Pub, and University Roadhouse and their more extensive dive into American fine pub foods.
Holy Taco is a pared down space with a pared down menu, which is right in line with current restaurant trends, Chris Housler said.
Although Holy Taco is a concept he has been working on for a couple of years, the new Texas Corners restaurant opened only a month ago. It was delayed, like many things, by the COVID-19 lockdown and then again by labor shortages that have buffeted the restaurant industry since things have reopened.
But it was worth the wait for Housler, who said the response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive.
I started the evening with an appetizer of chips and esquites, a deconstructed elote — the traditional Mexican treat of corn on the cob topped with chili, lime and cheese. The sweet yet slightly spicy corn salsa is a great alternative to the traditional chips and salsa.
My server suggested the fish taco with a panko-crusted cod, nestled in a salsa verde and topped with a cumin-lime slaw, and her favorite chorizo taco, with a house-made sausage, queso chihuahua, esquites, pickled jalapeño and onion, and cilantro.
I also went with the most basic of their tacos, a standard ground beef with queso chihuahua and pico de gallo, The nicely spiced beef and piquant chunky salsa made it satisfactory, but it couldn’t stand up to the textures or flavors of the fish and the Brussels sprout tacos.
The crunch sells the fish taco – crunch coming from the panko crust on the fish and the fresh, flavorful slaw. But my favorite was the Brussels sprout taco, featuring the veg at its best — slightly caramelized from frying and made sweeter by the glaze. It’s unique with a smear of refried black beans, queso chihuahua, and honey chipotle glaze.
“The steak taco is the favorite on the menu, the top seller,” Housler said. “But the surprise taco, the one everyone talks about, is the Brussels sprout taco.”
I thought the dish came with some kind of cheese — other than the crumbly queso chihuahua — and so had asked for the cheese to be grilled to a crisp. My mistake. The taco doesn’t come with a cheese, but the server still brought it out as requested and it was yummy, the chewy cheese a perfect complement to the Brussels — even if that wasn’t quite what the chef planned.
The man behind the tasty tacos is Shane Sheldon, owner of Bold in Texas Corners. Housler said Sheldon is a collaborator not a competitor – even though the Houslers’ Texas Corners Fletcher’s Pub is right across the street from Bold. Sheldon tested many of the tacos as small plate offerings at Bold as he helped develop the Holy Taco menu.
There’s another collaboration that helps set this taco joint apart from many other restaurants in town – including all the other Housler restaurants – and that is the interior design from KLH Builders, who created a casually elegant environment for the 50-seat restaurant. “I found that after 30-plus years in the business that I was good at building boxes, but not so good at the design details,” Housler said.
What KLH designed is a place that’s great for date night or to hang out with friends for drinks and snacks. The bright white space is accented by blue and green tiles and a ledge of plants on one side and a giant mural of a taco with wings on another wall. The bar is backed by a colorful wall of liquor bottles, including the approximately 50 different tequilas on the menu, along with a feature of several tequila-based cocktails such as a Paloma, Margarita, and Tequila Michelada.
Eventually, Housler said the entire wall will be filled with at least 75 tequilas — as soon as supply chain issues clear up. He and Sheldon selected the tequila menu based on their favorites only to find many of them were not available in the state right now. Tequila fans should check back frequently as they update the menu as more become available. Check back too, he said, as they expand the menu to include daily taco and appetizer features in the future.
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