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Tex-Mex, Hattiesburg Type, at El Rayo

After years of analysis and months of preparation, restaurateur Robert St. John opened El Rayo in 2021.

There’s one thing comforting and acquainted about Tex-Mex meals. It’s scrumptious, and for essentially the most half, dependable. However there’s a distinction between steam trays full of refried beans and rice and the meals that’s dished up at El Rayo.

When Hattiesburg restauranteur Robert St. John determined to open a Tex-Mex restaurant, he took his household on an prolonged street journey the place they ate at eating places throughout the American Southwest. 

“Robert did his analysis,” says RiAnn Taylor, director of selling for the New South Restaurant Group. “He traveled to a number of Southwestern states and never solely ate in as many Tex-Mex eating places as he might, however he additionally frolicked speaking with the homeowners, kitchen supervisor and cooks. He took be aware of the tools they used and all of the little particulars that make good Tex-Mex meals, properly, good.” 

When Robert was able to open a Tex-Mex restaurant in Hattiesburg, he knew he wanted a great location.

“Robert was in search of a stand-alone constructing he might purchase to have available for when he was able to do the restaurant,” says Taylor.

When he determined to shut the Purple Parrot, his first restaurant, that opened an area subsequent to his Crescent Metropolis Grill that was ultimate for St. John’s latest enterprise: El Rayo. After years of analysis and months of preparation, El Rayo opened on January 11, 2021.

“The response has been nice,” says Taylor. “Of us have been rallying and supporting us as a result of we’re a neighborhood enterprise. We’ve even had individuals driving in from different elements of the state as a result of they’ve heard about El Rayo.”

Any Robert St. John restaurant goes to offer a complete eating expertise, and El Rayo doesn’t disappoint. It’s a fiesta from the time you step within the door. Coloured lights crisscross the ceiling, and a big mural by native artist Anthony Saxton graces a complete wall.

“That’s the Mex a part of the décor,” laughs Taylor. As a result of the restaurant is within the South, there may be additionally a nod to nation music.

“Tammy Wynette graces the women’ room door, and George Jones is on the boys’s room door,” says Taylor. “The women’ room has life-sized Elvis wallpaper!” 

The menu is a rigorously curated mix of Mexican and Texan meals with a great dose of Southern cooking within the combine. It’s straightforward to search out the anticipated dishes: basic fajitas, enchiladas and tacos. However the dishes are ready in an sudden manner. There are Mexican tacos together with carnitas with grilled pineapple and roasted poblano crema, and tacos served with both crispy fried fish or grilled Gulf fish. Texas tacos embrace the usual hen or beef. Queso is served, however company at El Rayo can select from 5 kinds, every with totally different add-ins comparable to chorizo, pork, hen or steak. The menu states that queso may be served in one in all 2,163 mixtures. 

There’s a wide range of Rancho Skillets, full of all method of scrumptious components, and enchilada plates that embrace the Truck Cease with pink chili gravy, Baja shrimp with roasted pink pepper butter and a crawfish enchilada. 

Taylor says she loves the skirt steak and orders it each time she eats at El Rayo. The restaurant makes use of 30-day aged Angus outdoors skirt steak and places it in a meat tumbler that was ordered specifically for the restaurant.

“The marinade is added to the tumbler with the meat after which it spins, which makes the marinade soak into the meat,” Taylor explains. “It simply makes the meat tremendous flavorful and tender.”

The Gringo Fries are a preferred menu merchandise, smothered in tomatillo salsa, jalapeno ranch dip, picadillo, jalapeno, bitter cream, pickled onion and Pico de Gallo. And should you actually wish to get adventurous, strive the #10 can nachos. The serving is a giant presentation wherein the server brings out a big can, opened on one finish. The can is inverted onto a plate, then the server dramatically lifts the can, which permits the nachos and all of the scrumptious toppings to tumble down onto the plate. 

No Tex-Mex restaurant is full with out margaritas, and far thought and creativity has gone into the event of El Rayo’s choices. There are twelve distinctive margaritas on the menus. Along with the basic Mexican margarita, El Rayo serves a Texas margarita with grilled blood orange and jalapeno, and pineapple cilantro and strawberry basil margaritas, all hand-crafted with contemporary components. Along with margaritas, El Rayo serves up such classics as palomas, sangria and pina coladas. The wine listing contains bottles from California, Portugal, Spain and Argentina. An intensive beer listing options many Mexican-brewed beers. 

The patio space is lush with stunning crops. Located subsequent to the restaurant in what was once a part of the parking zone, the patio options an Airstream camper that’s used for a kitchen for the out of doors areas.

The restaurant is open seven days per week for lunch and dinner, with a weekend brunch. 



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