Delaware restaurateur and James Beard Foundation honoree Matt Haley opened his eighth restaurant, Papá Grande’s Coastal Taquería, May 19 in Rehoboth Beach. This is Haley’s second Papá Grande’s. The first, which opened in 2013, is in Fenwick Island.
“Our customers really embraced the whole idea of authentic Mexican street food paired with Latin-inspired dishes that have a southern Delaware twist - it’s been incredibly popular,” says Haley, a Washington, D.C. native who opened his first Delaware restaurant, Bluecoast, in 2001. “There was a real demand for another Papá Grande’s in the northern beach area.”
When Cabo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar in downtown Rehoboth went up for sale, he spotted the opportunity. “The space is amazing,” Haley says. “This was once home to Chez La Mer, a French restaurant that helped launch the city’s dining scene in the 1980s. I’ve always admired it.” It’s also on the corner of Wilmington Avenue and First Street, which has become a restaurant hub.
A seasoned veteran at transforming distinctive spaces, Haley took only a few months to create a warm, open restaurant. Shiny wood tables wear a painted turquoise-and-orange accent. There are hardwood floors, and unadorned windows allow natural light into the rooms. A metal chandelier dangles over a round corner table, and wall sconces cast a soft glow. There is an upstairs deck featuring a pergola draped with white lights that sparkle at night.
Fans of the Fenwick site will see a similar menu, which was recently updated for the season. Taco ingredients run from a garden salad ($10 for two) to beef short ribs ($13 for two) to crispy fried catfish ($14 for two.) Taste local flavor with tacos packed with scrapple and apple ($11 for two). All tacos come with rice, beans, house sauces and lime.
Doug Ruley, corporate chef of the Matt Haley Companies and a partner in the Papa Grande’s ventures, oversees the menu, which includes an appetizing list of noshes. They all go well with the impressive menu of tequila-inspired cocktails, mojitos, sangria, Mexican beers and other libations on the beverage list.
Papá Grande’s Coastal Taquería is at 210 Second St. in Rehoboth Beach. The original location is at 8929 Madison Ave. in Fenwick Island. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 4 to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday. For more information visit www.papagrandes.com or call 302-212-2409.
For more information on Matt Haley's businesses, go to www.matthaleycompanies.com.