Tequila Mama Taqueria
340 Town Center Ave., Suwanee
Open since: March 3
Owners: Blake Rogers, Hector Abreu
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
Location: Suwanee Town Center, across from City Hall
Atmosphere: Tequila Mama Taqueria isn’t like the previous restaurants that inhabited the storefront space at Suwanee Town Center. The restaurant, which opened its doors roughly two months ago, is bright, lively and on most nights teeming with conversations and birthday celebrations.
While the previous occupants of the space opted for a tavern concept, Tequila Mama seizes the natural daylight with a dog friendly patio seating and a garage door that allows for an open bar.
“We wanted to completely change the identity of the space to bring new life to it,” owner Blake Rogers said. “Considering it is located directly across from the wonderful Suwanee (Town) Park and features the best open-air bar around, we wanted to create an atmosphere where singles and families could join us for a casual, lively dining experience while also providing a unique fusion-inspired menu primarily based on Latin and Asian cuisine.”
Rogers said that his new restaurant, which he co-owns and operates with his friend and colleague Hector Abreu, wants to be a part of Suwanee Town Center’s weekend events during the summer. Rogers said Tequila Mama will sell sangria at its pop-up tent outside during busy events this summer.
Rogers and Abreu are veteran restaurant owners and entrepreneurs. The two met after opening local restaurants near each other circa 2017. The two joined forces this year and introduced what has become a popular spot in Suwanee’s downtown district. While the busiest evenings are Fridays and Saturdays, the joint can get crowded on mild-weather weeknights when customers are having an afternoon drink or snack.
Menu: The inspiration for Tequila Mama’s eclectic menu is a fusion of Latin American cuisine with Asian signature dishes.
“We love food from all around the world, especially tacos,” Rogers said. “You can do so many creative things with tacos other than just adding cheese, chicken and beef. We felt a taqueria would be a great way to share our favorite flavors while providing an opportunity to include a variety of tasty flavors from around the world.”
A perfect example is illustrated by two of the restaurant’s specialty tacos: La Bama and Bulgogi. The La Bama taco’s crispy fried shrimp is tossed in sriracha aioli and drizzled with unagi — a Japanese term for freshwater eel — and island slaw. The Bulgogi, a Korean term for a thinly sliced grilled meet, also features a Latin twist on a Korean barbecue classic with sauteed peppers and onions, cilantro, cotija cheese and — of course — island slaw and sriracha aioli.
There are Street Taco options, which are built more like a classic Tex-Mex taco with a choice of meat served with cilantro, onions and chipotle cream or “green magic sauce.” In the first few months, the tacos are the joint’s most popular dishes, while the bowls — including La Cantina, Bulgogi and Cubano — are the second-most ordered entrees.
For the complete experience, start your meal with a famous appetizer: Korean Krack’ling Fries. The crispy fries are topped with Mama’s sauce trio and toasted sesame seeds.
The restaurant’s debut menu features a handful of specialties. Honey Hoisin Sticky Ribs is a half rack of brined and flash fried pork ribs with hot honey hoisin sauce, served with island slaw and yuca fritas. There are more Latin classics on the list, including Carne Asada, Fajitas, Fiesta Quesadilla and Tequila Lime Chicken.
There will soon be another reason for customers to come back to Tequila Mama. The restaurant is testing items for its new expanded menu, which Rogers said could roll out as soon as June. There will be classic Tex-Mex additions such as fresh guacamole and a TMT Burrito, but some new specialty items will be introduced, such as the Gringo Burger and Spanish Ribs.
The expanded menu will include lunch specials. The lunch hours will be Monday though Friday, tentatively from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and featuring a choice of several entrees — TMT Burrito, Street Tacos, quesadilla, chicken salad or selection of bowls — and a drink for $10.
Something you may not know: The first thing one notices before entering the restaurant are two giant mariachis that greet guests with a horn and guitar. Contributing to the Town Center’s art theme, Rogers said the mariachis came all the way from Guadalajara, Mexico. They’re a photogenic trademark for new patrons.