Taco Circus is back with classic guilty pleasures and flashy high-end ingredients in a new and improved locale. St. Louis’ go-to spot for Austin-style Tex-Mex, which originally debuted in the Bevo neighborhood in 2015, moved to The Hill neighborhood in September, shifting its focus from fast-casual taqueria to full-service dining extravaganza.
With an expanded comfort food menu and brand-new bar program, owner Christian Ethridge invites guests to sit and stay awhile. The plates he offers are as vibrant as the restaurant’s psychedelic décor comprised of his colorful collectibles. The Texas native’s concept demonstrates hospitality from a Mexican-American perspective, complete with the handmade tortillas he grew up eating with his family.
What inspired you to move to a new space? The looming goal of expansion and a more centralized location existed almost immediately after opening the first Taco Circus. When Sean [Baltzell] approached me with his vision for this location, it seemed like a really good fit: the patio, the neighborhood – [The Hill] is such a culinary destination – and a great creative team that works very hard and knows how to party. The weekends were great, but we wanted to be able to serve a weekday lunch, as well as have late-night service. This brings together the food and drink aspects that Taco Circus always wanted to have.
What’s changed in the new space? The other spot was an eat it and beat it type of place. At this one, you can settle in, really get comfortable and make a nice evening of it. With more cooks in the kitchen comes more eyes in terms of consistency and execution, and we have more Mexican-American staff, apart from myself, from different areas. So now we are bringing regionalism into the fold, which is very much at the core of Tex-Mex: Take the best aspects of regional Mexican cuisine and fold it into comfort food. One of the things we’re really looking forward to is highlighting all of our cooks’ favorite dishes with a comfort food slant.
How does this restaurant’s menu differ from the original’s? The original Taco Circus was a counter-service taqueria strictly serving perfectly executed proteins. At the new location, we’ll continue to focus on the perfect execution of those proteins, while incorporating more sit-down Tex-Mex combo plates. We can take care of vegetarians now, too; before, we just didn’t have the volume to justify such an expansive vegetarian menu. We’re also making our own corn and flour tortillas, which is a huge deal because freshly made, pillowy tortillas are unsurpassed. My family made flour tortillas from scratch every day. I’m happy to continue that tradition.
Taco Circus, 4940 Southwest Ave., Southwest Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.899.0061, tacocircus.com