Fired up About Tacos

Grizzly’s owners launch southwest-style eatery with wood-fired panache

Natalie Rosenkranz, photos by Andrea Paulseth

NOT JUST FOR TUESDAYS ANYMORE. Roble Tacos + Tequila features wood-fired dishes such as Baja Shrimp and Wood Roasted Chicken tacos (above)  and Mexican street corn (below, center). The drink menu includes margaritas (below left, from left to right) such as the Roble House Margarita, Desert Pear, Roble’s Best, and Roble Signature Jalapeno Strawberry. The restaurant is located at 5020 Keystone Crossing, Eau Claire.
NOT JUST FOR TUESDAYS ANYMORE. Roble Tacos + Tequila features wood-fired dishes such as Baja Shrimp and Wood Roasted Chicken tacos and Mexican street corn. 

If you love the wood-fired food at Grizzly’s and the cocktails at Milwaukee Burger Company, then you’re in luck: A new restaurant is coming to Eau Claire, and it’s chock-full of wood-fired luxuries and margaritas that are sure to leave you with your mouth watering!

The owners of the acclaimed Grizzly’s Wood Fired Grill & Steaks (4890 Golf Road) and Milwaukee Burger Co. (2620 E. Clairemont Ave.) are bringing another addictive restaurant to the Chippewa Valley. Roble Tacos + Tequila will open soon at 5020 Keystone Crossing, i.e. the spot not far from Oakwood Mall that used to house Picanha, The Front Porch, and Outback Steakhouse.

Roble will be – in a word – festive, says Kent Letnes. “We want this to be a little bit of a party place,” he says. “We think people are going to dig the space. It looks nothing like the old restaurants there; we hired Shea Architects to design it, and they really did a great job. Tacos will be served on mini sheet tray, so it has a really casual, fun vibe. We want people to feel like they are at a beach party and drinking margaritas with no worries!”

The drink menu includes margaritas (below left, from left to right) such as the Roble House Margarita, Desert Pear, Roble’s Best, and Roble Signature Jalapeno Strawberry. The restaurant is located at 5020 Keystone Crossing, Eau Claire.
The drink menu includes margaritas such as (left to right) the Roble House Margarita, Desert Pear, Roble’s Best, and Roble Signature Jalapeno Strawberry.

Since Roble Tacos + Tequila is a project by Kevin, Kent, Matt, and Curt Letnes (who own Milwaukee Burger Co. and Grizzly’s), you can count on this place to deliver food that’s as filling as it is comforting. According to Kent, “When we first started to develop the concept, we were thinking of focusing on the Southwest United States as the inspiration, but it morphed into a concept that is focused on awesome tacos and fresh margaritas.

“I think it’s going to be a great option at a pretty reasonable price point: full taco plates from $8.50-$11,” he continues. “(The) fresh margaritas are going to be great, and I think people will be able to tell we took the time and effort in cooking with food rather than firing our food with gas.

“Roble will be wood-fired just like Grizzly’s, but that is really where the comparison ends,” Letnes adds. “We really believe in cooking over wood. We get our wood locally out of Fall Creek, and it’s great red oak from the Chippewa Valley. … We’ve always believed that taking the time and effort in cooking over a real wood fire really makes the difference.”

Whether you’re in the mood for a wood-roasted portabella enchilada or a green chili bacon cheeseburger, you’re sure to find something on the menu that’ll pique your interest. “The concept you will see is focused on great wood-fired meats and vegetables,” Letnes says. “We will have the wood-burning rotisserie oven that we have at Grizzly’s, but this one actually has a grill on the front of it. So, anything we grill (steaks, vegetables, chicken, etc.) will be cooked over a 100 percent local wood fire.”

Letnes adds, “You will be able to get these meats and vegetables in a variety of ways (tacos, enchiladas, entrees), but the star will be the tacos. We’ve focused on curating a great taco list that is interesting yet approachable. I think as we progress you will see us get more experimental with it, but for opening, we were focused on creating a great, approachable taco menu.”

The food isn’t the only thing worth talking about, though; true to its name, Roble Tacos + Tequila has a margarita bar with an incredible range of options. “The margaritas are going to be (made) with fresh-squeezed lime juice,” Letnes explains. “We debated for a long time over bringing in a sweet-and-sour mix and creating a ‘cheap’ margarita. In the end, though, we didn’t feel like it fit the menu. … Doing fresh-squeezed margaritas takes more time and is expensive, but we felt like it was the right thing to only serve a high-quality margarita.” 

Some of the margaritas listed on the menu include a Desert Pear Margarita; a Spicy Margarita infused with chilies; and a Skinny Margarita that’s just 128 calories. “They really are great and will be only $3 at happy hour; that’s a steal for a fresh-squeezed juice margarita,” Letnes says. “The Strawberry Jalapeno Margarita is also going to be a really great combo, and who doesn’t love spicy margaritas?”

Hours will be limited this month, with the restaurant opening at 3pm, but starting Jan. 2 it will be open for lunch and dinner every day. Projected hours will be 11am-11pm Sunday-Thursday and 11am-midnight Fridays and Saturdays. (Happy hour is 3-6pm Monday-Friday and 9pm-close every day.)

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be 4-4:30pm Friday, Dec. 16. Whether you’re able to make it to the ceremony or you decide to pop in for a quick lunch (they plan on offering a mini version of their house margarita during lunch hours), it’s sure to be a dining experience you won’t forget.

Learn more at robletaco.com, facebook.com/ROBLETACO, or by calling (715) 895-8226.

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