I was a few mouthfuls into the roasted pork torta before I came up for air. It took me a moment to register that I was being asked for a bite of my sandwich.
I wanted to say no, but I needed to clean the juices that had spilled down my wrists anyway. Messy torta sandwiches are exactly the kind I prefer.
I found that particular one at the RoastHouse, which reopened March 8 in Parkland.
Tim Hall, owner of Puyallup’s HG Bistro, purchased the RoastHouse from Ben Herreid of Puyallup’s Arista, the fresh-pasta restaurant. Herreid originally opened Roasthouse by Arista in October, but closed a month later, along with Arista, when financial difficulties hit.
With help from Puyallup restaurant owners, Herreid reopened Arista the next day, but RoastHouse stayed dark.
Hall offered to take it over so long as Herreid would stay on as creative consultant.
Hall hired Nathan Hawes to lead the kitchen, and Hawes devised a menu that shifted Herreid’s vision to Latin America.
While Herreid’s menu stuck to oven-roasted meats and side dishes such as brown bread, greens and hush puppies, the new vision at RoastHouse emphasizes Latin accompaniments and new menu categories straight out of a taqueria (think tacos and tortas). And that roasted brisket and pork shoulder now come with chimichurri.
Here’s a first-bite look. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
Dining room: The restaurant formerly was casual with an order-at-the-counter protocol, but Hall has opened the restaurant with table service. That might change as the restaurant looks to add a computerized ordering system.
Decor: It looks just as it did under Herreid’s watch with a two-tier dining room with tables and booths for two to six.
The menu: A la carte roasted meats and mix-and-match sides, plus an appetizer menu, street tacos and torta sandwiches. Same menu served for lunch and dinner.
Appetizers: Eight small dishes starting at $5.50. Appetizers include hummus with chimichurri ($6.50) and a skewer of three prosciutto-wrapped prawns ($7.50).
Tacos and tortas: Vegetarian taco trio with black beans, fried avocado and trimmings ($6.95); trio of street tacos with a choice of carne asada, roasted pork or brisket ($7.95). Brisket or pulled pork torta ($6.95-$7.95).
A la carte oven-roasted meats: Five, including chicken breast and wing ($8.95), carne asada (grilled) and brisket ($9.95 each), pork shoulder ($7.95), lamb shank ($12.95).
A la carte sides: 10 choices starting at $2.25, including black beans with chorizo ($2.75) or without ($2.25) and queso blanco cheese sauce ($2.75).
Worth noting: Tacos, several sides and empanadas can be made vegetarian. A kids meal with a cheese quesadilla and fries or chips ($6.50) or two battered chicken tenders with fries or chips ($7.50).
Try: The torta arrived with enough roasted pork shoulder to push the sandwich to 6 inches (that’s tall and wide), topped with jicama slaw, pico and tequila lime cream sauce ($6.95).
A 6-ounce portion of slow-cooked, smoky-tasting brisket came sliced thin, with a drizzle of Argentinean chimichurri ($9.95). Roasted pork shoulder, also 6 ounces, was a meaty hunk, less broken down than the pork inside the torta ($7.95). Roasted meats were accompanied by a creamy-dressed jicama slaw and pickled vegetables a la taco truck (carrots, onions, jalapenos).
Empanadas were flaky pastries filled with meat ($6.50).
Side dishes to try: Polenta got a cheesy treatment with queso ($2.75). Ketchup with garlic-topped masa-battered fries carried a kick of chipotle ($2.75). Roasted potatoes were sprinkled with herbs ($2.25).
Where: 14506 Pacific Ave S., Tacoma; 253-535-6328; facebook.com/roasthousebyarista.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays.