Let's taco 'bout it

San Antonio Iron Chef invades Austin with new taco joint and margarita bar

San Antonio Iron Chef invades Austin with taco joint and bar

Jason Dady tacos
Jason Dady is keeping things simple for his new taco joint in Austin. Jason Dady/ Instagram

Austin and San Antonio may have a famous rivalry, but business is business. Over the last couple of years, Alamo City restaurants like Bakery Lorraine, Merit Coffee, and Stella Public House have looked to expand their horizons by opening new locations up north while homegrown chains like Hopdoddy Burger Bar and Torchy’s Tacos are increasingly moving south.

Now, one of the biggest names in San Antonio food — celebrity restaurateur and Iron Chef Gauntlet star Jason Dady — is opening his first eatery outside the 210. Chispas, a bar and restaurant specializing in tacos, will open in the fall in the former home of Fado’s Irish Pub at 214 W. 4th St.

The news first broke during the Austin Food & Wine Festival on April 28-29. Dady told CultureMap that he has been sitting on the concept for some time and had always thought San Antonio would be the location, but when he heard that Fado vacated its Warehouse District location after more than 20 years in Austin, it was a “no brainer” to scoop it up.

Dady envisions Chispas as a “cool hangout taco and margarita joint with fresh salsa and guac, and homemade tortillas.” The menu will be minimal, with no more than 12 tacos.

“[Chispas] is not like Torchy’s with a lot of different ingredients,” said Dady. “There will be no more than four ingredients, including the tortilla.” That doesn’t necessarily mean traditional, however. Dady teased that the tacos may even use ingredients like avocado mousse.

The margaritas will be focused on a basic build as well, using fresh juices. “Chispas is San Antonio slang for strong, really good tart margaritas,” the chef explained. “There will not be a bunch of machines doing strawberry and mango.”

Although the majority of the cocktails will be shaken and on the rocks, Dady said he does love frozen margaritas, and said that he may allow one into the rotation.

As if all that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Dady is also moving his Alamo City spot Tre Trattoria in mid-June. On May 1, he announced on Instagram that the popular Italian restaurant would be relocating from its current home to the Beretta Hops House at the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Dady said he has been looking at the location for five years. The new restaurant will allow him to scale down the restaurant, going from 100 to about 70 seats. The covered patio, overlooking the Museum Reach section of the River Walk, will accommodate another 60.

“With the Pearl and downtown merging, it’s a home run location,” he said. The original Tre Trattoria does not have a closing date just yet, but the Instagram post assured fans that they still had a few weeks.

After Chispas and the new Tre Trattoria opens, Dady said he has no new projects in the works — and he will continue operating his other six restaurants: Tre Trattoria, Shuck Shack, Two Bros BBQ Market, B&D Ice House, Bin Tapas, and his new chophouse, Range. “My wife would kill me if I thought about anything else,” he joked.