Mabel Gray transforming to a ‘temporary taqueria’

While chef and owner James Rigato is in Italy, Omar Ramirez will serve Mexican fair at the Hazel Park hot spot

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

While chef James Rigato is in Italy next month, he will leave Omar Ramirez in charge of the kitchen at his acclaimed Hazel Park restaurant Mabel Gray.

From Sept. 6-24 diners who visit Mabel Gray will get a taste of Mexico with Ramirez’s “Spanglish: A temporary taquiera” menu. Ramirez, who hails from Leon, Guanajuato in central Mexico, has worked alongside Rigato on and off since 2001.

Look for a la carte tacos al pastor ($3 each) and tortilla chips with a trio of salsas ($5). Ramirez will also make crab tostada with lump crab, avocado mousse, radicchio, pickled onion, pink grapefruit and sunflower seeds ($18) cocktail de camarones with poached Michigan farmed shrimp ($12), plus ceviche, tamales, grilled quail, torta, grilled sweet corn and other dishes.

Those familiar with The Root Restaurant & Bar’s Taco Tuesday menu will know Ramirez’s inventions. Besides cooking there, he has been the personal chef to the Root owner Ed Mamou. He’ll soon be moving to San Diego, so this stint at Mabel Gray will be one of the last chances to enjoy his cooking in town before he relocates.

Rigato will be traveling to Abruzzo, Italy with Italian-born chef Luciano Del Signore of Bacco Ristorante in Southfield. There, they’ll host a collaboration dinner and immerse themselves in the local cuisine.

Mabel Gray, which was recently featured in the New York Times, was one of 25 semifinalists for Best New Restaurant for the 2016 James Beard Awards.

The 40-something-seat restaurant, 23825 John R in Hazel Park, is open 5-10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. and 4-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Call (248) 398-4300 for reservations.

(313) 222-2402

Twitter: @melodybaetens