Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Original El Taco Opening This Month

Partners Robby Kukler, Steve Simon and Kris Reinhard, owners of Ecco, South City Kitchen Midtown, South City Kitchen Vinings, La Tavola Trattoria and Bold American Events & Catering, are pleased to announce their latest restaurant venture, The Original El Taco, which is slated to open later this month in Virginia-Highland. 

The most notable d├ęcor element is the mixed media mural covering one of the restaurant's walls, which was created by two students from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
: Gerardo Rios and Zachary Goodson, who earned the privilege by submitting sketches in response to an ad that Fifth Group Restaurants posted on Craigslist.

Goodson is a 20-year-old student from Texas who is an animation major but is also interested in drawing. Rios, a 21-year old student from Illinois, is a painting major who specializes in portraits and has spent a great deal of time in Mexico where his family originated. The mural is a collage of paint, wood, paper and metal that features images of Mexican parodies, Frida Kahlo's face and lucha libre-like characters mixed with one-of-a-kind drawings and other reclaimed items, and took these talented art students two long weekends to complete.

More eccentric touches such as multiple old doorknobs on each door, a cast aluminum bull's head with horns that span 72 inches wide and an old submarine door placed on the restaurant's front entrance add to the funky atmosphere.

In the tradition of Sala-Sabor de Mexico, the restaurant that formerly occupied the space that was known as the Holy Grail of margaritas, guests will have their choice of many high-quality margaritas made from 100% agave tequila and fresh juices in addition to frozen margaritas and frozen mojitos. The bar will also serve three red wines, three white wines, sangria, 12 Mexican and domestic beers, approximately 25 tequila selections and other premium liquors.

Near the kitchen, guests can help themselves to a self-serve salsa bar which will contain 8 to 10 different condiments including salsas, pickled vegetables and other fun add-ons to enhance the cuisine created by Executive Chef Shaun Doty and Chef de Cuisine Craig Sauls.

To-go will be made easier than ever with two designated parking spaces and a specific pick-up window on the patio just steps from the parking lot.

Less visibly apparent but most significant are El Taco's environmentally conscious qualities. The restaurant's owners utilize energy-saving bulbs that are four times more energy efficient than traditional bulbs whenever possible and have also purchased wind energy credits to help support this initiative. All of the wood used in the re-design of the space has been re purposed from the past restaurant or from other local buildings that had already been razed.

The cooking oil used at Fifth Group Restaurants, including El Taco, is recycled and turned into biodiesel by Rob Del Bueno of Refuel Biodiesel ( , which is a program of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and the only one of its kind in Georgia that is certified for this process. Refuel collects used cooking oil produced by Atlanta-area restaurants and kitchens to aid in local waste management and significantly decreases the energy costs associated with feedstock and fuel transportation. After the oil is converted into biodiesel, Refuel provides the fuel to the Atlanta market, making the vertically integrated operation entirely local from start to finish. All proceeds from the Refuel program are used to promote responsible energy solutions in the Southeast.

Additionally, the restaurant's carryout containers are made from 100% recycled paper, compostable in municipal and commercial composting systems and certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute. El Taco's drink cups are manufactured from corn-based Natureworks biopolymer.

El Taco will be open for dinner nightly and is located at 1186 North Highland Ave. Reservations will only be accepted for parties of six or more. Otherwise, the restaurant will offer a call-ahead preferred seating program. For more information, call (404) 873-4656 or visit

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