On the same week they throw their biggest party, owners of the Iguana Mexican Grill opened a second restaurant.
But this Iguana won't be a Mexican Grill it'll be a Cafe.
The new Iguana Cafe, 6482 Avondale Drive, opened Monday in the space where Chicas Mexican Cafe used to reside. The new name fits the smaller, more intimate version of the wildly successful concept downtown.
General Manager Toni Hoffmann said the smaller space warrants a smaller menu with a sultry, sexy setting.
The new menu was designed by Iguana executive chef Lee Bennett and will be executed by Riley Westerberg, who has worked in the kitchen at the downtown location since its early days.
The menu will include Iguana favorites like tacos, burritos, the Mexican Cobb Salad, quesadillas and four daily special entrees. Westerberg has developed salsas exclusive to the new cafe while keeping the classic table salsa, dating to Iguana's earliest incarnation days on N Western.
At a soft opening last week, I was able to sample the goods and everything was spot-on. The bread-and-butter jalapeno relish left me wanting more. The roasted pork burrito and spinach-mushroom were spot-on. Among a few things Iguana Cafe has that the original does not is house-made corn and flour tortillas, which made already good dishes great. The Mexican Cobb Salad, flan and key lime pie were also memorable.
Originally called The Iguana Lounge and part of an ownership group that included Steve Mason, Chris Lower and chef Kurt Fleischfresser, the Iguana Cafe is less than a mile from that original location up Western Avenue where Earl's Barbecue now resides.
In the summer of 2009, Mason, Painter and chef Ryan Parrott resuscitated the concept with The Iguana Mexican Grill.
Iguana Cafe won't have Taco Tuesday's, apologies to Taco John's for the mention, but will have Tapas Tuesdays.
“We wanted to do something special for this location,” Bennett said.
Co-owner Robert Painter worked at the original Iguana and is thrilled to be returning the concept to its roots in a format similar to its earliest days.
“We're home,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iguana Mexican Grill, 9 NE Ninth St., will throw its annual Cinco de Mayo Street Party on Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. with live music starting at noon.