Grace is gone, and something a little more sinister is moving in.
El Diablo, a nighttime taqueria, will take over the space of Ben Vaughn's former fine-dining establishment, Grace. Next door, Au Fond Farmtable will continue to please the breakfast and lunch crews, but at 5 p.m., El Diablo, a "retro nightclub meets taco bar," will open for dinner and late-night snacks.
Vaughn isn't looking to expand his culinary horizons. "This is just a little taqueria, and it's what I enjoy doing," he says. Expect house-made chips and tortillas with a variety of fillings, from ceviche to tripe. Vegetarian options will also be available as well as composed entrées, such as tamales in beef, chicken, vegetable, and dessert varieties. After spending part of his life in Miami, Vaughn has picked up some Cuban influences, which will make their way onto the menu. For instance, saffron rice will take the place of dirty rice and black beans will replace refried beans. Vaughn is also working on a number of soups, such as a white gazpacho made with pine nuts.
As for the bar, El Diablo will be a place "to get cold beer and hot tacos," Vaughn says. An extensive beer menu with domestics, imports, and local brews will be joined by a less expensive house beer.
When the restaurant opens at 5 p.m., Vaughn hopes to welcome young families from the neighborhood. As the night wears on, Vaughn plans on drawing in a distinctly different crowd until closing at 2 a.m.
"If my Grandma came here, she would leave," he says, referring to El Diablo's dark aesthetic, red lights, and what he hopes will be a bustling atmosphere.
The feel of the new place is different from Grace, which is exactly what Vaughn is going for. "Grace lost a tremendous amount of money. I'm young, and I don't want to drain myself creatively and financially," he says. "This makes sense for the market and fits in with the neighborhood."
Tacos will come à la carte for a couple of bucks each or on platters for $6 to $12. El Diablo will be open the first week in April.
El Diablo, 938 S. Cooper (274-8511)
La Michoacana paleteria y neveria, the Mexican ice creamery, has opened another location, this time on Summer east of Graham. Destined to be a foodie favorite, La Michoacana offers a range of ice cream bars and scoops: Rich strawberries and cheese, chocolate, rum raisin, coconut, tequila, pine nut and coconut, caramel, pecan, chocolate chip, and more. Fresh frozen fruit bars include kiwi, watermelon, strawberry, guava, mango and chili, lime, and melon. They also serve corn on the cob, chicharrones, and aguas frescas in melon, coconut, strawberry, and pineapple.
Only open a month, this new location is in addition to locations near the intersections of State Line and Highway 51 and Winchester and Kirby. Owner Ari Gonzalez makes all the ice cream at the Southaven store, using recipes handed down from his parents and according to family tradition. The ice cream bars are rich, yet icy — the perfect spring and summer treat.
La Michoacana is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
La Michoacana paleteria y neveria,