A New Taco Spot on Fruitville

Good Bite

Pictured: Irma's Tacos is the place to enjoy tasty and inventive tacos. Photo Courtesy of Irma's Tacos.

Let’s talk about tacos. They’re tasty, ubiquitous and versatile, with flavors based on everything from Mexican culinary traditions to Asian fusion twists. If you’re looking for a variety of tacos, then check out the new location of Irma’s Tacos in Fruitville Commons.

In 2017, Tommy Villani, the managing partner of OTW Restaurant Group which owns Irma’s Tacos, and his Executive Chef Mike Leopold owned Off the Wagon Brewery in Venice. After Hurricane Irma struck, Villani went to the restaurant to see how it had fared in the storm. Unlike most of the surrounding area, the restaurant still had power, so he and Leopold decided to open it. “He came in and looked at his inventory and said ‘I can make tacos. Chicken, steak and shrimp tacos are the only thing we can make,’” Villani says. “I think that day we served about 500 people, and we ended up selling out of tacos. There was one open Publix, and I think we bought them out of tortillas. At some point, we had to use pita bread that we had frozen to finish the orders up. That was something that got our name out into the community with Off the Wagon.”

Two years later, Villani expressed to Leopold that he wanted to change gears and do something different. Leopold shared his idea for a taco concept, which meshed well with Villani’s love of tequila and traveling to Mexico. In July 2020, the duo opened the first Irma’s Tacos in Wellen Park and sold Off the Wagon in 2022. The eatery's name stems from Hurricane Irma, which inspired the taco concpet. Many of the tacos on the menu are named after storms that, like Irma, occured in 2017. In October 2023, they opened the second location of Irma’s off of Fruitville, where diners can enjoy a variety of tacos in a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere. “We never claim to be an authentic Mexican restaurant. My Executive Chef Mike Leopold graduated at the top of his class from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and is a classically French-trained chef with an incredible background and creativity,” Villani adds. “We tend to be very chef-driven in the menus that we produce.” The menu features contemporary ethnic craft tacos, encompassing Old World favorites like carne asada and al pastor to playful combinations such as the Korean short rib taco.

“The al pastor is one of my favorites, and is a much more traditional Mexican-style taco with a housemade salsa verde, pineapple and onions and corn or flour tortillas made to order in-house,” says Villani. He also recommends the Arlene, with Korean short rib, kimchee, avocado and cilantro-lime crema. The menu features vegan and vegetarian options, like the Rina, with Nashville hot-fried cauliflower, lettuce, pickles and hot honey. Guests can pair their meal with a cocktail or sample the over 120 tequilas and mezcals on offer and can count on the educated and passionate servers to help them choose from a menu that encourages even non-tequila drinkers to sample the beverage. “We have an unbelievable staff that’s well-versed in all the food and oftentimes takes tequila classes and has good recommendations,” he adds. “From the minute you walk in there, with our amazing staff and the feel, you feel like you’re in a big city having the opportunity to enjoy contemporary, forward-facing food.”

Irma’s Tacos, 3080 Fruitville Commons Blvd., Unit 100, Sarasota, 941-217-6594, irmastacoswp.com.

Pictured: Irma's Tacos is the place to enjoy tasty and inventive tacos. Photo Courtesy of Irma's Tacos.

Irma's Tacos

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