Tastings: Roosters Latin American Food
Frankie Little takes lower Dauphin Street south of the border.
Gulf Shrimp Po'boy (left), Tacos three ways: Al Pastor, Veggie and Steak (right)
Frankie Little always wanted to own a restaurant. He began working straight out of high school and rose through the ranks of local establishments. He always strove to be the best at whatever position he held until he could say he knew the business inside and out. When he decided it was time to open his own place, he knew that it was going to be casual and fun, leaving behind the pretension of the fine dining world where he honed his trade. But the question of what to serve remained. A 2016 road trip through south Texas with a buddy (Haberdasher manager Roy Clark) provided the inspiration. After a week of outstanding food truck tacos, burritos and Mexican tortas, Little crafted a small menu of fresh, authentic Latin American flavors that would become Roosters Latin American Food.
Well-seasoned meats are the heart of the menu, usually presented on exceptional corn tortillas or soft ciabatta bread and topped with homemade sauces. Authentic tacos are served with nothing but diced grilled onion, cilantro and Cotija cheese on top of your choice of meat, just the way they build them south of the border. After only six months in business, Roosters is ready to expand its offering and has started cooking up daily specials that include Gulf shrimp and barbacoa, salads made with local hydroponic lettuce, tortilla soup and more. And by all means, save room for a locally made ice cream sandwich of Cammie’s Old Dutch ice cream and EllenJay cookies.
One of the more unique things about the menu is the alcohol offering. In addition to an impressive selection of Mexican beers (Victoria, for example), American craft beer and wine, Roosters serves more than a half dozen tequilas and Mezcal — the only hard liquors they stock. It’s part of Little’s theory that you should do one thing and do it really well. But even with just those liquors, tasty possibilities await. The Paloma (tequila, Jarritos grapefruit soda, lime and a salt rim) is exceptional, and the Mezcal Margarita is a must-try. A tamarind syrup rim is dipped in Mexican Tajín seasoning that makes a sweet, sour, tart, spicy and just plain fun cocktail that you won’t find anywhere else in South Alabama.
The service is quick, making Roosters a great place to grab lunch downtown or even dinner before a show. Chef Little perfectly combines authentic Mexican recipes with South Texas flair, then throws in some Caribbean, Costa Rican and Argentinian vibes for good measure. In short, this is a menu that leaves you dancing the cha cha cha.
On the Menu
These authentic tacos are topped with nothing more than onions, cilantro and Cotija cheese, just like true Mexican street food! Choose your filling: chicken, pork al pastor, chorizo and plantain, seared steak, rib-eye, Gulf shrimp or veggie. Each one is as tempting as the next. Then choose one of four homemade sauces to pull it all together.
Surf & Turf Burrito
This enormous burrito is stuffed with spicy seared shrimp and steak, homemade guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, Spanish rice and chipotle cream. The cherry on top of this hearty entree is the melted queso sauce with a hefty sprinkling of chorizo. You’re getting your $15 worth on this one.
Barbacoa Beef Sandwich
A hearty sandwich to start the week, the Roosters special on Mondays and Tuesdays is a flavorful brisket spiced with three different chili peppers then slow roasted for 20 hours. It’s finished with homemade cumin BBQ sauce and crunchy slaw and is served on soft ciabatta bread.
Gulf Shrimp Po’boy
Fresh Gulf shrimp are tossed in the secret Roosters dry rub and seared, then served on New Orleans Leidenheimer French bread. Homemade guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, local hydroponic lettuce and a little citrus aioli complete the perfect po’boy. But take note — this sandwich is only served Fridays and Saturdays!