Before becoming the executive chef at Armature Works’ first sit-down restaurant, Steelbach, Nathan Hardin served as the chef de cuisine at Highball and Harvest at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes and has been featured at the James Beard House in New York. At Steelbach, his menu focuses on quality meat with a local flavor.
What is your favorite thing for lunch outside your own restaurant?
The chorizo tacos from La Fiesta Mexican Store. I honestly don’t know if they make their own chorizo or what, but it doesn’t matter. The simplicity of these tacos is what makes them so good. Charred corn tortillas, lime, white on-ion and that sensuous chorizo — that’s it. There are two salsas to choose from on the table, both amazing in their own right, but I’m definitely a fan of the verde. Also get the chicharrones. These uber-crispy pork belly bites are unreal. It’s the perfect balance of crispy, salty, fatty, meaty deliciousness. Hit it with a squeeze of lime and some of the salsa verde, and you’re hooked. The kicker for the meal is the selection of Jarritos sodas. I had no idea there were so many flavors.
How did you discover La Fiesta?
I’m always looking for the dopest, most authentic taco place in town, no matter the city, and when I came back to Tampa I had to ask the question. Jay Wells, our beverage director [at Steelbach], insisted that I try La Fiesta, and he was spot-on. This place is the epitome of a hidden gem. Tucked away a few blocks behind IKEA off Adamo Drive, it’s a Mexican grocery store with a small restaurant hidden in between two of the aisles.
Armature Works | 1902 N. Ola Ave. | (813) 693-5478
La Fiesta Mexican Store
1202 S. 22nd St. (813) 241-2477
Read about the other chefs we interviewed for TAMPA Downtown’s Best Thing I Ever Ate feature here.