Richard Hales Returns With Midtown Taco Stand Pop-Up at Angelina’s

La Chonga ($3.50) — with spit-roasted al pastor pork, achiote, sour orange, guajillo pepper, extra Oaxaca cheese, and pineapple — will be up for grabs at Midtown Taco Stand.
La Chonga ($3.50) — with spit-roasted al pastor pork, achiote, sour orange, guajillo pepper, extra Oaxaca cheese, and pineapple — will be up for grabs at Midtown Taco Stand.
Image courtesy Richard Hales

A pared-down version of Richard Hales’ shuttered Centro Taco will open November 18 near his Blackbrick and Sakaya Kitchen operations.

Midtown Taco Stand will run Wednesdays through Sundays from about 6:30 until 10 p.m. weekdays and until 11 p.m. on weekends after Angelina’s Coffee & Yogurt closes for the day. Don’t expect waiter service, simply an order stand and some outdoor seating. The lineup is far shorter than Centro’s sprawling array of Mexican-inspired dishes served at the short-lived downtown spot that earned flattering reviews from New Times and the Miami Herald.

The menu includes hand-torn corn dough chips called totopos ($3.50) and chilaquiles verdes ($4.50), with the possible addition of green chorizo and an egg for an additional charge.

Hales will also toy with rolling some Asian-inspired fillings into house-made corn and flour tortillas. Chairman Mao’s carnitas will include a Berkshire hog confit with cinnamon, clove, star anise, and orange peel. Salt-and-pepper calamari will be stuffed into a roti and dressed up with Duroc bacon, cilantro aioli, and a dose of MSG. The half-dozen offerings, priced at $3.50 apiece, will include classics such as cochinita pibil and al pastor.

Centro’s former chef, James Seyba, won’t return. The Mexican spot marked the young cook’s third gig this year and was preceded by a brief stint at Michelle Bernstein’s revived namesake, Cena by Michy, and the Freehand’s 27 Restaurant & Bar.

Hales seems to be banking on the simpler menu, more akin to what’s served at Wynwood’s Coyo Taco and South Beach’s Taquiza, to make the concept work. And it just might, considering midtown’s persistent buzz and the dearth of Mexican food following Mercadito’s March 2014 closure.

“The move is to test the waters,” Hales says, “and see can if I operate in this type of concept or if I stick with Asian.”

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