Bring on the taco bliss

St. Petersburg’s beloved Casita Taqueria will reopen in a new space with the same homemade flavor.

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Casita Taqueria’s inventive Mexican cuisine has been absent for nearly five months, but Friday marks the eatery’s reopening in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg.

The two loveliest words brand Casita's new locale on St. Petersburg's Central Avenue. - CASITA TAQUERIA VIA INSTAGRAM
  • Casita Taqueria via Instagram
  • The two loveliest words brand Casita's new locale on St. Petersburg's Central Avenue.
Don Arvin, who co-owns Casita with his wife Gwen, said the restaurant at 2663 Central Ave. will serve all day from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Casita’s original home along Fourth Street at 27th Avenue North was closed for good on Jan. 11 after Trader Joe’s bought out the 2700 block's landlord. The property also housed Ringside Café, Classy Closet and other businesses.

According to Don, construction on the new location, a Texaco gas station built in 1935, was beyond a challenge. He called it “frustrating, to say the least.”

The inside of Casita has a rugged, steampunk feel.

With industrial lighting and reclaimed wood on the bar top and windows, Arvin described the décor as funky and eclectic. The indoor dining area has more seating than before, and there’s also greater space in the kitchen.

Out front, picnic tables are nestled under the building, and once lifted up, Casita’s garage doors allow for an open-air dining experience for all.

Casita's industrial interior. - CASITA TAQUERIA VIA INSTAGRAM
  • Casita Taqueria via Instagram
  • Casita's industrial interior.
Arvin said the joint plans for more seating around back, outdoor patio-esque like the previous site, where people may bring their pooches and hang out for a round of beers.

“The Grand Central and Kenwood people have been awesome,” Arvin said. “It’s a lot different than Fourth Street … more welcoming.”

He said he hopes the restaurant wrangles in newbie diners and residents from Kenwood, and that northeast St. Pete regulars will flock to Casita again. He doesn’t want to lose them.

The menu offerings will remain the same, with daily specials and fresh ingredients. Yes, including the guac, and those homemade corn tortillas that taste just right — the ones taco aficionados have been without for so long.

A portion of reopening day’s sales will benefit artist-musician Jim Morey, a friend who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Arvin said he and the Casita familia want to raise money for him and bring awareness to the cause.

Pass the pineapple Jarritos, Casita. It’s been a while.

Editor's note: Casita Taqueria announced via Facebook Tuesday, May 20, that it will reopen May 23 instead of the scheduled May 21.

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