Local Eats: New Tex-Mex restaurant coming to Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Taco lovers will soon have a new place to grab a new bite in Grand Rapids.
Steven Martinez, the owner of Basalt, a Tex-Mex food trailer that operates at Fulton Street Farmers Market, plans to open a store at 1450 Wealthy St. SE in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids later this month.
Martinez, 31, says he has built a strong customer base since selling tacos, tortas, quesadillas, and bowls at the farmers market in February 2020. Now he is ready to build on that success with his own space.
“It definitely gives us more flexibility to be more creative with the menu,” said Martinez, who grew up in Houston and came to Grand Rapids to attend Calvin College (now Calvin University). “Especially when we started out and had to get everything prepackaged and ready to eat, it was kind of limited what we could do.”
Growing up in Texas, tacos – especially breakfast tacos – were a big part of Martinez’s life.
“Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday it was like, ‘OK, which taco place will I get my tacos today,'” he recalled.
He has honored his love of everything Tex-Mex related by creating a menu of 11 types of tacos, seven of which are breakfast tacos with eggs and other toppings.
Number one, for example, includes red pork chorizo, egg, and a mix of three cheeses. Another option is the Mommie Dearest, which includes green chicken chorizo, egg, hash browns, and queso fresco.
After launching the storefront restaurant, Martinez wants to experiment with items that are difficult to prepare in a mobile environment.
“It’s difficult to use a deep fryer or bake things in the farmers market,” he said. “One thing that I’m really looking forward to is different types of enchiladas in the restaurant. I really knew we’d do this well and we’d really shine and people would love it.”
Martinez said other popular items at Basalt are The Heights Torta Sandwich.
Named for the Houston neighborhood Martinez grew up in, the sandwich features thickly sliced bacon, two eggs, white cheddar, garlic mayonnaise, and tomato jam from Cellar Door Preserves in Grand Rapids.
“It’s like the perfect mix,” he said. “There’s a little spice, a little sweet. It’s super tasty. I would say it’s the best breakfast sandwich in town. “
In addition to tacos and tortas, basalt offers three types of bowls – ingredients that are served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon instead of being wrapped in a tortilla. There are also four types of quesadillas, as well as french fries and salsa or guacamole.
Another popular product is Basalt’s homemade lime.
“It’s super refreshing, slightly sour, slightly sweet,” said Martinez. “We sweeten it with agave and add a pinch of salt to improve the taste.”
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