Restaurant to bring a little ‘street’ to Downtown Tucson

August 21, 2014

Two more Trader Joe’s managers are moving into the beer business in Tucson, and this time they’re adding food.

Dago Martinez, 33 (left) and Amjaad Jhan, 39, plan to open the Street Taco & Beer Co. by the end of September.

Dago Martinez, 33 (left) and Amjaad Jhan, 39, plan to open the Street Taco & Beer Co. by the end of September.

At Street Taco and Beer Co., the brainchild of Dago Martinez and Amjaad Jhan, you’ll soon be able to grab a quick, simple meal and a cold brew. The small eatery planned for the former Enoteca spot at the northwest corner of Church Avenue and Congress Street follows Tap & Bottle as a business venture launched by Trader Joe’s managers. They’re planning to open at the end of September or early in October.

The inspiration for the food – simple tacos, burros and tortas – comes from Martinez’s childhood in Los Angeles and visits to his parents’ native Mexico.

“My parents are from Juarez, and you find it when you get off the bus, right there in the street,” Martinez said.

The pork will be cooked “al pastor,” or on a vertical spit similar to Gyro style, and flavorings simple – cilantro and a secret rub from Martinez’s dad, a precious commodity that requires trips to Los Angeles to acquire. They’ll also have Mexican Coke and Fanta and fresh horchata made in-house.
Street intends to offer the Downtown lunch crowd quick, quality, affordable food, and they think their location across from the Pima County Superior Court building is ideal. It’s a short stroll from the core of Downtown employment – the city, county and court buildings surrounding Presidio Park.

Street will keep crowds moving smoothly with an open kitchen concept. Tacos, burros, tortas and street dogs will be built in view, directly behind the service counter. Order at one end, pick up and pay at the other. A chip and salsa bar will be few steps past the cash register.

“A lot of people have a limited lunch. We don’t want them to spend half an hour getting their food,” Jhan said.

They plan to serve as much Arizona food as possible, to support local businesses.

And lest we forget, the other half of Street’s name is “beer,” and they intend to sell a lot of it. They plan eight taps (four local) and 75-100 bottled beers from across the nation and around the world.

The restaurant will have an industrial feel, with exposed brick and metal. The front of the space will be replaced with huge garage doors, where a counter will allow you to sit and watch crowds pass.

Jhan says nothing brings more joy to people than offering them a good meal, and it was a dream years in the making for Martinez, who has always gone the extra mile when he hosted tastings at Trader Joe’s. He considers himself an expert, having sampled the goods from time to time.

“I like my food. I’m not going to lie,” he said with a grin.