Greenwich Mexican restaurant seeks to open second spot in Darien

La Taqueria owner Dennis Lake poses in his restaurant in Greenwich, Conn. Wednesday, June 3, 2020.

La Taqueria owner Dennis Lake poses in his restaurant in Greenwich, Conn. Wednesday, June 3, 2020.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — A take-out and casual Mexican restaurant based in Greenwich is looking to expand into Darien in the new development called Darien Place.

Details for the project were presented at Tuesday’s Planning & Zoning meeting. Darien Place owner Jon Vaccaro, who also owns the property that houses Roost, bought the property at 1077 Boston Post Road for $11,300,000 in January 2020.

La Taqueria would fill the final vacancy at the building, which is the former home of the Darien Playhouse. The other two businesses set to open there are a lighting store and Kennedy’s barbershop, which is moving locations.

The renovation to Darien Place involves converting the first floor into retail storefronts and converting the second floor to four new one-bedroom apartments.

La Taqueira is a small, casual counter-style Mexican restaurant currently based on Greenwich Avenue. According to the application, chef and owner Dennis Lake said he is looking to replicate the same model as he is using in Greenwich. Lake is an alumni of the Culinary Institute of America and most recently owned Glaze Teriyaki and Rosa Mexicano in New York City.

The menu includes appetizers like tortilla soup, guacamole, chips and salsa, and street corn. It also includes 10 different kinds of tacos that range in price from $4 for grilled chicken to beef short rib for $6.75. The restaurant also includes a small bar.

Hours of operation would be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday.

Lake said the business model has been fast-casual, not fine dining, with emphasis on delivery and catering.

Amy Zebetakis, who spoke at the hearing on behalf the project, shared that as someone who works in downtown Darien, the options for a quick take-out lunch or dinner are limited.

With new residential units coming into downtown with The Corbin District, there will be more walking traffic, she added.

Lake said the goal is to have 30 to 40 seats in the restaurant, as per the current drawings and the space provided. And with the quick turnaround of customers, he does not expect to need to increase parking.

Neighbor Gina Zangrillo of the Darien Sport Shop wrote a letter of support for the project, and Fred Conze, who spoke on the shop’s behalf at Planning & Zoning meeting, also endorsed the project.

Conze urged P&Z officials to take the lead on planning for parking and traffic with upcoming downtown development as well.

The Planning & Zoning Commission will vote on this application at an upcoming meeting. If approved, La Taqueria would be the latest in a few new eateries to open in Darien.

Owner and Wilton resident Tim Labant recently opened a new site of his celebrated Parlor Pizza & Bar at 1020 Post Road in the former location of Bistro Baldanza.

Restaurant L’Ostal, at the former Center Street Public house, is a Provencal restaurant “rooted in history and tradition celebrating the cuisines of Southern France and its boundaries” according to its website. It opened earlier this month.

There are currently two other restaurants that offer Mexican fare in Darien: Bodega Taco Bar, also on the Post Road, and Baja Joe’s on Tokeneke Road.