“It’s now or never.”
Restaurateur Cesar Torres spoke those words almost two years ago at the age of 34 as his life was in transition and he looked for his next chapter.
“I saw it as a sign of God to say, I’ve always wanted to do this and I have plenty of experience,” he explained. “I called my mom and brother with the idea and they had same feeling. We all decided, ‘Let’s go for it.’”
That idea is the less-than-a-year-old Green Ghost Tacos, a small eatery churning out big Mexican flavors, on County Line Road near Northpark Mall. Torres won’t even celebrate his first year in business until September but already is opening a second location, in Fondren, next month.
The now 35 year-old mostly lifelong Jacksonian (his family came to Mississippi from Mexico when he was in junior high school in 1994) moved to Chicago after his graduation from Murrah to study e-commerce but wound up in the restaurant business instead. “I had never owned my own place, but, as a director of operations, I was responsible for close to 50 locations and 800 employees,” he said. “The timing (for Green Ghost) was perfect.”
Call it Mexican food, but that’s like calling all food in the U.S. “American.” “There are three distinct regions in Mexico and all of them have different ways of cooking. I wanted to make dishes like they make them back in Mexico — like we make at my house.”
Menu standouts are the pastor (marinated pork) burritos and tortas. Many of Torres’ customers love their slow roasted pork shoulder and chile rellenos. And, on subsequent visits, we’ve seen more than one order of loaded steak fries up for carry out.
With such a small space at County Line Road, Torres’ culinary goodness has been limited to a more grab-and-go offering. But in Fondren, moving in to the soon-to-be remodeled former Que Sera Sera, he plans an expansion of the menu. You’ll see more steak dinners, signature molÃ©s, vegetarian dishes and lighter options like salads — all served among house made tortillas and chips and fresh ingredients. Torres calls it “food with integrity.”
You asked for it and Green Ghost will deliver: Sunday brunch, replete with breakfast tacos and margaritas infused with a purer “mescal” tequila are on the menu. Torres said he will open seven days a week, serving breakfast (coffee, fresh squeezed juices, tacos and burritos), lunch and dinner. He’s also developing a smart phone application that will allow you to place your order just ahead of picking it up.
A second location could have gone anywhere, but he’s had his eye on Fondren. “When I saw Que Sera Sera come available — I really wanted it from the ‘get,’” he laughed, citing the number of customers who come from Belhaven and Fondren to his Ridgeland shop. “Fondren represents great opportunity for us.”
There’s still lots of work to do to ready the space (new kitchen equipment arrives next week), but Torres plans to open “middle to late August,” with a grand opening on September 16, Mexican Independence Day. He’ll host friends and family and service industry nights first before officially turning on the open sign to the public. Until then, with his own taco truck, he hopes to utilize the patio for seating and serve a limited menu “in a couple of weeks” so neighbors can have a taste of what’s to come.
“I’m excited,” he beamed. “I just want everyone to know I’m not trying to compete but to add to what’s already here. My goal is to help Fondren grow and to make the community even better.”