Travis Dickinson, the executive chef at Clover, is leaving his post to pursue an eatery of his own.
Cochinito Taqueria is slated to open in downtown Spokane in early 2018.
The fast-casual taco shop will focus on using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and fine dining techniques in an approachable and casual setting. Cocktails will be included. So will beer and wine.
The taqueria will be open for lunch and dinner – and maybe brunch, eventually – six days a week.
The plan is to keep price points approachable and the atmosphere fun and accessible.
Dickinson is hoping to open his shop by Feb. 1.
Renovation on the space is already underway. Cochinito Taqueria will be located in the space that used to house Mi Casa at 14 N. Post St. next door to the cocktail bar Volstead Act.
Plans call for a stained and refurbished terrazzo floor with plenty of wood accents and corrugated sheet metal. The logo features a Day-of-the-Dead-style pig’s head.
The space will feature a walk-up counter and no table service.
The menu features rotating specials “from fun and funky to traditional Oaxacan,” said Dickinson, 36.
Think elevated street-style tacos such as carnitas made from pork cheek instead of pork shoulder. Specials could include duck or rabbit.
One of the dishes is named in honor of his wife, Karina, 39, who hails from Sinoloa. They met in Portland 12 years ago and are expecting their first child in March.
Karina’s Bowl features a choice of taco meat, beans, rice, guacamole, queso fresco, crema, pico de gallo and chips or tortillas.
Tacos include al pastor, lamb birria, carne asada, chicken, mushroom, chorizo, rockfish and octopus.
Fans of Clover’s charred Spanish octopus will find the dish, one of Dickinson’s signatures, as an appetizer at Cochinito Taqueria.
Look, also, for ceviche, queso funito, grilled corn, posole, sopes and Dickinson’s take on taco chicken wings. The specialty taco features fried buttermilk-battered chicken with bleu cheese, cilantro and celery slaw.
“I can still source responsibly and locally as much as possible and use fine-dining techniques,” Dickinson said. “But it will be something my friends can afford to eat at without breaking the bank.”
Tacos will be served on 6-inch corn tortillas that are made in-house.
“It’s like sushi,” Dickinson said. “That vehicle is so important. Sushi chefs pay a lot of attention to the rice. Tortillas are the same.”
Salsas and sauces will also be made in-house. So will the tortilla chips, aguas frescas and horchata.
Desserts include pumpkin flan, churros and house-made paletas in rotating flavors.
“I think Spokane cares about buying local,” Dickinson said. “Spokane cares about where their food comes from. That’s kind of the movement here.”
Combination meals will also be available. So will handcrafted cocktails. Margaritas will be a specialty here. So will sangria, a horchata flip with tequila and orgeat, and something called the Watermelon Man, with tequila, lime, cider vinegar, watermelon, mint and tajin, a chili-lime seasoning.
Dickinson has been looking for a space for the gourmet taco shop for last year and a half to two years. But, he said, he’s been dreaming of this for at least four years – “since before I started at Clover.”
Cochinito Taqueria will be open six days a week for lunch and dinner. It will be closed Mondays.