A tightly coiled ball of energy bouncing between present and future projects, Marc Falsetto only became certain about the location of his new Tacocraft Taqueria & Tequila Bar in downtown Fort Lauderdale when he was able to sit still.
For two weekends late last year, Falsetto set a chair on the sidewalk in front of the former MidiCi restaurant space on Federal Highway, the border between the new bustle of Flagler Village and the upscale moderation of Victoria Park.
And he just watched: Runners zipped by, dogs were walked, strollers were strolled, young professionals filled restaurants, millennials bought coffee and moms pulled up to use the ATM.
“You really have to feel the location,” Falsetto says. “There’s just a lot of synergy in that area. Our brand really appeals to young professionals and millennials who have a lot of energy. Our whole demographic is right there in Flagler Village and Victoria Park.”
Falsetto expects Tacocraft Victoria Park to open in late November. Pushing aside blueprints on the bar this week, the 40-year-old longtime Broward County resident shared a sneak peek at the new place.
Tacocraft Victoria Park is the first project by the team that will drive the brand going forward. Along with Falsetto, it includes Anthony Bruno (Andy’s Live Fire Grill and Anthony’s Pronto Kitchen) and Pat Marzano, the duo behind the rapidly growing Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza chain; Miami Dolphins icon Dan Marino; and South Florida radio legend Paul Castronovo. It is an ambitious group with designs on making Tacocraft a regional brand. Coming soon is a Tacocraft at Plantation Walk, which Falsetto expects to open in late spring-early summer. A location in Aventura also is on the drawing board.
Nearly 4,000 square feet and more than three times the size of the original Fort Lauderdale Tacocraft that once operated in the Himmarshee District, the new location will be similar in size and feel to its sister spot in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, opened in early 2019. There are about 160 seats, a massive marble bar where more than 400 bottles of tequila and other spirits will be displayed, and a large covered patio.
The attractive décor that Falsetto (also a designer) calls “coastal Tulum” is a classy marriage of heavy woods with citrusy green subway tile, a color repeated on crushed-velvet clamshell banquettes. When light pours through the massive windows — several windows and the front doors fold open to allow fresh air to flow in — the effect will be bright, fresh and relaxing. In the dim lighting of night, when the bar glows in signature green, the same room achieves a sexy, dramatic sophistication.
Just inside the door is a nod to the evolution of dining in the COVID era, a built-in station dedicated to takeout and food-delivery pickup. One wall at the far end of the dining room will be covered in murals, but don’t expect skulls and skeletons. “Gone is all that Day of the Dead stuff. Upscale Mexican coastal is in,” Falsetto says.
You’ll still be able to find many of the ambitious twists on Mexican street food that made Tacocraft popular. But along with a new raw bar, Tacocraft Victoria Park will introduce “refined Mexican” menu items that also will be added at sister restaurants in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and South Miami. Core entrée favorites from executive chef Robbyns Martinez will be joined by Achiote Brick Chicken ($19), Pan Seared Grouper ($26) and a fire-grilled Skirt Steak ($24). New tacos include Chicken al Pastor ($5) and Key Lime Grouper ($6). The raw bar will offer Snapper Ceviche ($14) and Tuna Poke Tacos ($14). “We’ve elevated the menu with some of the entrees, with the raw bar. We’re moving away from burritos and all that kind of stuff,” Falsetto says.
Keep on the grass
The feature that may come to define Tacocraft Victoria Park will be a large covered patio at the entrance on the north side of the building. Featuring 1,500 square feet of artificial turf bracketed by built-in seating covered in colorful cushions and pillows, the patio will have mounted TVs and space for live music and DJs. Falsetto expects to program music four or five nights a week, including their popular Taco Tuesday parties and during Saturday and Sunday brunch.
Kids are alright
While Falsetto talks a lot about upscaling and elevating, he hopes Tacocraft Victoria Park will be popular with families, who used to crowd the old MidiCi pizza space. He points out that unlike many restaurants nearby, Tacocraft will have a kid’s menu.
“We’re upscale casual but we’re still casual,” he says. “One of the reasons we picked the edge of Victoria Park is there’s lots of families, sporting teams, soccer moms. And everybody loves tacos.”