say hey to little rey
State of Grace owner fires up new taqueria with wood-grilled meats, street tacos, and more in River Oaks District
A new taqueria is coming to the area near Highland Village and River Oaks District. Little Rey, a fast casual concept from State of Grace owner Ford Fry, will open in early 2024.
While its menu is built around tacos, Little Rey isn’t a Tex-Mex restaurant. That niche is filled by Superica, Fry’s restaurant in the Heights that serves a full menu of queso, fajitas, and enchiladas.
“I look at it as more of that South Texas or Northern Mexico, border town, where you’ve got a guy roasting whole chickens on a spit,” Fry tells CultureMap. “We use some of the same proteins [as a Tex-Mex restaurant], but it’s a completely different thing.”
Chef Ford Fry.Photo by Johnny Autry
Those proteins are highlighted in the menu’s al carbon section that features grilled chicken, beef fajitas, and crispy pork belly served in flour tortillas. Another section of street-style tacos pairs corn tortillas with proteins such as brisket, skirt steak, chicken, and shrimp. Bone-in grilled chicken al carbon is also available as plates with rice, ranch-style charro beans, and choice of tortilla.
Diners will also find queso, smoked chicken wings, a chicken torta, chicken and rice, and pozole on the menu. Breakfast, served on the weekends, includes breakfast tacos and Superica’s cult-favorite pancakes. Beverage options will feature margaritas, both frozen and on-the rocks, along with aqua frescas, Mexican beer, and Texas craft beer.
Fry, a Houston native who found success in Atlanta, is known for opening restaurants inspired by his childhood favorites. For example, La Lucha takes some inspiration from the San Jacinto Inn, with its signature Pharmacy Burger nodding to both River Oaks’ staple Avalon Diner and Whataburger.
All of which is to say that a fast-casual taqueria built around wood-grilled meats and weekend breakfast sounds a little like Goode Co. Taqueria. Fry acknowledges the connection.
“As a kid, Goode Co Taqueria was the original fast casual restaurant,” he says. “That goes into me cooking the food of my childhood. I always credit Jim Goode as one of my favorite cooks . . . I go there every time I come to town.”
Just as Little Rey’s menu is distinct from that particular source of inspiration, its design is all its own, too. Fry has recruited Texas architect the Michael Hsu Office of Architecture to design a 7,000-square-foot restaurant (including patio) that’s currently under construction at 2345 Mid Lane. An “Uno Mas” window will allow customers to get another margarita or soft serve ice cream. Design details will include hand-painted signage, vintage memorabilia such as Mexican festival masks, and other artwork.