A taste of Mexico comes to The Shack
The renowned Newport restaurant Tallulah on Thames has taken over the food operation at Dutch Harbor, and if early reaction is any indication, The Shack is going to be a popular spot for island residents as well as transient boaters.
Tallulah on Thames has been in operation for three years, according to co-owner Kelly Ann Maurice. It is a small farm-to-table restaurant that has garnered a large reputation among dining aficionados in the state. Jake Rojas is the chef and co-owns the restaurant with Maurice.
Rojas has been nominated twice by Food & Wine Magazine for best new chef. He was recently given the prestigious opportunity to cook at the James Beard House in New York City.
In addition to the restaurant in Newport, Tallulah has a popular taco cart that can be found at farmers markets and other special events. Maurice said one of her customers let her know of the opportunity in Jamestown that might be a perfect place to offer Tallulah’s tacos and burritos.
“Things just fell into place,” said Maurice. “Everyone involved is looking to bring a new type of cuisine to the town. We have a lot of Jamestown locals who come to our taco cart so we’re hoping to see a lot of familiar faces. We’ve already had such a warm welcome. We’re excited about that.”
Tallulah is offering a variety of tacos at The Shack, including fish, lobster, chicken and pork. The breakfast menu on weekends also includes a burrito that is filled with guacamole, rice, beans, roasted peppers, onions and salsa. The eggs that fill the burrito are raised at Jamestown’s Windmist Farm.
The Shack also has braised beef and chorizo burritos, as well as meatless options. Tallulah is committed to using locally sourced ingredients as much as possible.
The beverages are also local, including sodas from Yacht Club, a Rhode Island-based company. There are homemade fruit drinks created at the staff’s discretion that may on any day include lemonade made from basil and lime, and on another day be cantaloupe-based.
In keeping with the Mexican theme, a horchata drink made from rice and cinnamon is also offered.
Neil Manacle is the manager of The Shack, as well as Tallulah’s taco cart. Prior to coming to Rhode Island to work at Fluke Wine Bar & Kitchen in Newport, Manacle worked with celebrity chef Bobby Flay at restaurants like the Mesa Grill, Bar Americain and Bolo.
“The local people have really accepted us and made us feel welcome,” said Manacle. “So far it’s been a great experience. I’ve been in kitchens all my life and I’ve never had a view like this. It’s a good thing.”
Dutch Harbor Boat Yard owner Alison Eichler reports that all the boats at Dutch Harbor were in the water by June 1 and she anticipates a busy season at the marina. The yard was sold out for the season by March.
“Things are great,” she said. “The customers are happy and Tallulah is really creating a buzz for us in the boating community. Transient boaters are making reservations and mentioning how excited they are to eat at The Shack. They want to have a fish taco when they sail into Dutch Harbor.”
Eichler said people who are cruising in their boats tend to talk to one another. As a result, people who have never come to Dutch Harbor in the past are appearing because they’ve heard about through the grapevine.
“They’re hearing about every- thing we’re doing,” Eichler said. “The excitement is great. Having Latitude Yacht Brokerage, Tallulah’s Tacos and our business creates a nice sailing community. It’s a wonderful atmosphere.”
According to Eichler, Tallulah has always been one of her favorite restaurants in the area. When she heard that they were looking for a bricks-and-mortar location for their tacos as opposed to a cart, she was thrilled. She began to discuss the opportunity with Rojas and Maurice. An agreement was reached quickly.
“Because it’s one of my favorite restaurants in the state, I was excited to talk to them,” Eichler said. “It has turned out to be the perfect fit for Dutch Harbor. They’re good people who are invested in local farms and getting the best ingredients to make the best food. They’re making people really happy. The service is excellent.”
Eichler said Dutch Harbor is one of the most beautiful spots in the state, and by opening The Shack to the public, it gives access to the entire community, not just boaters.
The Shack is open all week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 18. It opens early at 8 a.m. for breakfast on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.