Craig DeMarco and Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects (the restaurateurs behind all three Postinos as well as Windsor, Churn, and Federal Pizza) are hanging pictures and putting the final touches on Joyride Taco House, which opens for lunch and dinner in Gilbert on Tuesday, June 4.
Housed in the historic Grainbelt Building, Joyride -- which shares the space with Postino East -- puts a modern spin on traditional Mexican food, offering up a menu that manages to be light, fresh, and fun. Percolating in the two partner's heads for years now, it's an idea that's finally come to fruition. And the place looks as fresh and fun as the food.
"It's the menu we always wanted to do," says Bailey, but we knew we needed some heavy lifters to make it happen." To that end, they hired Minerva Orduño Rincón, whom you may know in any number of ways: former cook at FnB, girl with own Mexican product line called Muñeca Mexicana and (full disclosure) current contributor to Chow Bella.
She and Upward Project's culinary director, Chris Newstrom, (with a little input from Bailey and DeMarco) have put together a colorful, appealing menu that includes share plates of guacamole, nachos, empanadas, pozole and ceviche; five salads with lots of sexy stuff in them (think purslane, toasted pepitas, Anasazi beans and Pappadew peppers, $8.50-$14.50).
It also offers handful of burritos and tortas ($8), four specials (including a simple rotisserie chicken plate with roasted veggies, guacamole, rice, romesco, and aji amarillo ($13.75) and, of course, tacos -- 10 of them, including a daily chef's special (which might be something like scallops).
Salsas (six of them, including a fiery but faintly sweet habanero) are made fresh daily, as are corn tortillas, flattened on a wooden press before they hit the griddle. La Sonorense provides the crispy chips and flour tortillas. The don't-miss dessert? Mo's Definitely -- a jar of housemade vanilla pudding with fresh bananas, caramel sauce, salted pecans, and cochinito cookie crust.
Naturally, we can expect a terrific cocktail program with boozy aguas frescas (flavors include pineapple, almond horchata, strawberry, cucumber mint, citrus, and hibiscus). If you can't decide which spirit to doctor your drink with, check Joyride's cheat sheet, a Spike Legend that offers up suggestions such as pineapple with Frangelico or hibiscus with rum.
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Cocktails include a Blood Orange Margarita, Mexican 75, Pineapple Mojito, and Key Largo (house vanilla vodka with cream of coconut and fresh lime). Expect Mexican beers and a handful of craft beers from Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon. Beverage director Brent Karlicek has also curated a small but effective list of premium tequilas.
The room looks great, featuring a center-stage bar, roomy booths near huge picture windows, quirky art, and a car theme (joyride, get it?), which includes steering wheels and headlights. In good weather, garage doors will open up on either side, letting in a cross breeze. Meanwhile, there's a patio that faces the street, and another that sits at the back of the restaurant overlooking a grassy lawn.
Can't wait to give this one a try.