James Graber, 26, and his wife Ashleigh, 25, drive 15 miles nearly every week from their Fort Lauderdale home to Boca Raton to have dinner at Rocco’s Tacos.The couple will now be able to save some gas money. After months of waiting for Rocco’s, the Mexican restaurant is now open on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, offering the same perks, like 220 types of tequila and the Tuesday night all-you-can-eat tacos for $14.99, the couple’s favorite. “We try our best to never miss a Tuesday,” said James Graber, who especially enjoys the steak tacos and tableside guacamole. Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar Las Olas , in the former home of Smith & Jones, opened Feb. 18 with a party. The Las Olas location will open for dinner only starting at 5 p.m. Feb. 19 and 20. On Feb. 21, Rocco’s will open for regular business hours serving lunch, dinner and late night dining daily. The kitchen is open until 11 p.m. weekdays and until midnight Thursday through Saturday. The Las Olas location has a late night menu until 3 a.m. The menu offers dishes like molcajetes, an authentic baked fajita served in a lava rock bowl from Mexico, or chile rellenos, battered and fried poblano chiles. The restaurant also features more than 12 specialty margaritas and customers can create their own drink concoctions. On weekends, owner Rocco Mangel, 37, surprises the guests at his restaurants with a tradition he created called the “tequila dance,” where he walks along the bar top pouring free tequila shots to his customers. The restaurant also features a DJ or a live mariachi band at each of its South Florida locations. Mangel has traveled to Mexico City, San Miguel and Guadalajara on eight occasions since July 2007 when he started planning the first restaurant. “At least 70 percent of the contents in the restaurant have been brought back from Mexico,” said Mangel, adding the restaurant imported everything from the elaborate chandeliers and tables to the bar tops and chairs. Mangel started thinking about the idea for Rocco’s Tacos when he managed MoQuila’s Mexican restaurant in Boca Raton. “I believed strongly in the Mexican restaurant concept,” said Mangel, saying he wanted authenticity. “I’m not interested in a Mexican restaurant with American flare.” Since opening its first location in December 2007 in West Palm Beach, Rocco’s Tacos has attracted some fame. Kelly Ripa, for one, mentioned the restaurant on her show, Live with Regis and Kelly on Fox, in June 2010. Amelia Gonzalez contributed to this article.
If you go
What: Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar Las Olas.
1313 E. Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale. Other locations: 5250 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton: 224 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.
When: Open for dinner only starting at 5 p.m. Feb. 19 and 20. Regular hours begin Feb. 21: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. weekdays, to midnight Thursday-Sunday, with a late-night menu available to 3 a.m.
Information: 954-524-9550 (Fort Lauderdale), 561-416-2131 (Boca Raton), 561-650-1001 (West Palm Beach); www.roccostacos.com