Emerging Concepts | April 2014 | By Daniel P. Smith

Standout Store: Huahua’s Taqueria

Miami, Florida–based restaurant goes big on al fresco dining.

Florida quick serve Huahua's Taqueria serves Mexican fare in outdoor setting.
Chef Todd Erickson and Huahua’s Taqueria pair traditional Mexican favorites with avant-garde offerings. Huahua’s Taqueria
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Opened in July 2013 by Miami restaurateurs Michael Boles and Niloy Thakkar, Huahua’s elevates the taco’s presence in South Beach. The concept pairs traditional Mexican favorites with avant-garde offerings crafted by Culinary Institute of America–trained chef Todd Erickson.

With just three seats in its vibrant interior—a space adorned with reclaimed barn wood, colorful Mexican piñatas, and spiky cacti—most Huahua’s diners, locals and tourists alike, head to the shop’s 32-seat patio. There, next to the bustle of popular Lincoln Road, guests can enjoy their tacos with house-made margaritas and savory homemade Latin ice pops know as paletas.

Chef Erickson discusses Huahua’s creation, its quick emergence, and the concept’s next steps.

How did Huahua’s come to be?

It’s really a happy little accident: We saw this 800-square-foot space become available on Lincoln Road and believed the right concept could be a hit, given the street’s constant pedestrian traffic. Being such a small space, we asked ourselves, If we drove in a food truck, what would we serve? Right away, tacos came to mind, and that’s the beginning of Huahua’s.

In a city known for its Hispanic cuisine, why tacos?

Ironically, tacos aren’t as prevalent in Miami as many think. We have a lot of Latin food—Cuban, Venezuelan, Argentinean, and so on—but Mexican and tacos are surprisingly underrepresented.

How has Huahua’s tried to make tacos a desired item?

We wanted creative items at the right price point. The thinking here was Southern restaurant meets taqueria, so we created items like the Fried Chicken Taco and the BBQ Short Rib Taco, which includes our house-pickled jalapeños. Those two, in particular, have become real crowd pleasers.

What else has Huahua’s done to build its niche?

Lincoln Road is very European and pet-friendly, so it would’ve been a mistake if we didn’t address this crowd. We offer complimentary biscuits to dogs, have water bowls out, and sell branded dog bowls and leashes. With our outdoor seating and open invitation for dogs and their owners, we’ve morphed into a fun, beachy space that fits our location.

What are Huahua’s next steps?

This summer, we’re implementing a delivery program to accommodate weather issues. Delivery will supplement our lack of indoor seating and help us make even deeper inroads with the locals. On the horizon, we also see aggressive expansion. When [Boles, Thakkar, and I] get together on a project, we’re very detail oriented, and we create a pretty package from the curb appeal and the interior design to the menu, the logo, and so on. That cohesiveness should be an asset to our growth plans.