It’s hard to find a bad margarita in Michigan, especially if the ingredients call for a copious amount of tequila. If you come across the splendiferous concoction of Triple Sec liqueur, simple syrup, blueberries, and basil, chances are you’re at Gran Castor. Curt Catallo and Ann Stevenson — the duo behind hotspots Vinsetta Garage and Union Woodshop — officially brought the Latin American inspired cafe and restaurant to the list of casual-glam eateries they’ve established in metro Detroit on Monday August 20.
Formerly a Hooters, Gran Castor’s cavernous space features two bars staffed with charming mixologists, a cozy cafe that offers pastries and espresso, seating for 245 patrons, and an indoor fire-pit — a relic from the location’s past life. The inventive, soft-opening menu includes crunchy jerk chicken taquitos served with queso fresco and grilled cactus pico, tacos made with curried oxtail, and fugazzeta, which are woodfire Argentinian breadsticks topped with epazote chimichurri. The pollo borracho, which translates as “drunken chicken” from Spanish, is a fried half chicken brined in tequila. It was also an occasional special once offered at Clarkston’s Honcho.
“Honcho was our first foray into Latin street food and people loved it” says Vince Baker, Gran Castor’s sous chef. “We have been referring to [Gran Castor] as the cousin of Honcho.” Rather than offering a broad scope of Mexican dishes, Baker and his team are focusing on a specific regional variety, “[Gran Castor’s] menu is a patchwork quilt of South American cuisine,” says Baker, whilst pointing out the various patches of wallpaper that decorate the restaurant’s walls. “This place is our honest and straightforward take on South American street food.”
Coming to the menu in the following months is a Latin-inspired take on porchetta: a classic Italian plate. It will be served right from the griddle and based on a recipe that involves slow cooking a pork belly wrapped around orange, chorizo and fennel. “That’s one of a personal favorite [dishes] of mine,” gushes Baker.
2950 Rochester Rd., Troy; 248-278 7777. D Mon-Sun