Anna Maria's Poppo's Taqueria to open Bradenton restaurant

Organic taco shop plans early June opening in Fresh Market Promenade

cschelle@bradenton.comMay 9, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Mission-style tacos are a hot commodity at Poppo's Taqueria in Anna Maria and come June, they'll be available in Bradenton.

The popular organic taco shop at 212 C Pine Ave., is building a new restaurant inside The Fresh Market Promenade, 6725 Manatee Ave.

"Some local people have been paying attention to what we're doing, watching the numbers and thought it would be a good idea to see if we could make it work in Bradenton," co-owner Patrick Coleman said.

The restaurant will continue to have the same feel and food, Coleman said, blending San Francisco and Mexican flavors, offering hormone-free food and craft sodas as an ode to the food his family remembers from Petaluma, Calif.

"We'll be reproducing our Anna Maria menu and also looking into doing some special things to have Bradenton be its own place," Coleman said.

The owners secured a five-year lease with two renewal options for the 1,845-square-foot space, according to a lease filed with the Manatee County Clerk. The Coleman

family will be just as involved, too, with the new location, expected to open in early June.

The name of the taco shop is borrowed from their grandfather's nickname, Poppo, who was a former Boston Globe reporter who moved to the Bradenton area.

Poppo's strives to be a few steps above Chipotle, with 90 percent of produce being organic, offering hormone free meats and experimenting with a new kind of carnitas: USDA certified wild hog.

The hogs hail from Three Suns Ranch in Punta Gorda, and it's believed the restaurant is the first in Florida to use US Department of Agriculture certified wild hog for mass consumption. Poppo's first started offering it in April and restaurateur Ed Chiles, who oversees The Sandbar, BeachHouse and Mar Vista restaurants also got on board.

"We tried out a couple of hogs, people liked it, the flavor's great," Coleman said. "It' nice to us, basically, wild animals from the state. That's something that we're looking into pushing forward."

Using wild hogs in restaurant is popular in Europe to keep the population under control and it's a movement that Coleman hopes to start here through Poppo's since Florida is also overpopulated with feral hogs.

Keith Mann, owner of Three Suns Ranch, said the wild hogs are trapped on his property and he also pays for hogs from other trappers to process at his USDA inspected plant. The wild hog processing started this year after a rule change by the USDA allowing wild hog processing in Florida, he said. The USDA also launched a $20 million program in April to help combat the feral hog population as part of the initiatives.

In most cases, folks might be eating wild hog without realizing it.

"A lot of folks don't understand that these wild hogs are processed as regular pork," Mann said. "They're put in with the other hogs at larger plants. There's no label requirement. It's just pork."

At Three Suns, Mann doesn't process the wild hogs with other meat. The result is a leaner meat with fuller flavor. The feral hogs run wild and eat a different diet than farm hogs.

"It lends itself very well to tacos," he said. "The shoulder meat makes a fantastic pulled pork."

The same picnic and shoulder cuts are used as if they were farm pigs, Coleman added.

It remains to be seen whether customers will go hog wild over the new menu item, but response has been positive so far, Coleman said.

The new restaurant will have its own feel, too. The Colemans, experienced in construction, built the Anna Maria restaurant with their own hands and found and recovered objects including Myakka City Cyprus from an old barn.

Poppo's enlisted the help of 390 Design in Sarasota to work with salvaged materials, building tables and doing the interior design.

"We're taking the same approach, but it is going to be its own space," Coleman said. "And it's going to look different from the one in Anna Maria."

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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