From selling tamales on Facebook to opening a second storefront
Amado Rodriguez III took a leap of faith in opening Arod’s Tex Mex & American Grill. Now he has two locations.
What started as a way to weather the pandemic by selling tamales on Facebook turned into a business at an east-side food court.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Amado Rodriguez III lost his job. With rent piling up and government aid taking five to six months to arrive, Rodriguez decided to make and sell tamales through Facebook.
“Tamales did really well,” says Rodriguez, who began brainstorming other food items he could offer. “I started selling tamales with brisket. No one sells brisket tamales up here — nobody knows about it.” He didn’t know it at the time, but the demand would lead him to open Arod’s Tex Mex & American Grill.
Rodriguez, whom many call A-Rod, began selling trays of everything from spaghetti to steak and peppers. “Everyone was telling me to open a restaurant,” he says. Word of mouth helped Rodriguez grow his business and, soon enough, all his bills were paid.
As business kept booming, Rodriguez was approached about an available space to open a restaurant.
At that moment, Rodriguez decided it was too much to take on, and he wasn’t sure if he could cover the overhead costs. Not long after, a vendor space opened up at the Global Market & Food Hall, an east-side business consisting of a food court and specialty grocery store.
“It was a giant leap of faith that I took. We went back and forth on it, we prayed on it,” says Rodriguez. After worrying that someone else would take the spot, “I decided, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ ”
Now Rodriguez is glad he did. Arod’s Tex Mex & American Grill opened in the Global Market & Food Hall in spring 2021, and Rodriguez has been busy ever since.
“It blew up,” he says.
Rodriguez says his inbox is consistently flooded with inquiries, and he remains amazed by the popularity of his food. He recently opened a new location on Gammon Road and has long-term goals of expanding to Rockford, Illinois.
“We’re really excited; we’re hoping we can do something with this,” says Rodriguez.
Quick Bites | A Taste of Tex-Mex
Bestseller | Brisket Birria
Brisket beef birria is a customer favorite, Rodriguez says. Birria is a meat that’s slow-cooked in a stew and often served with its braising liquid for dipping. Rodriguez offers brisket birria as a protein for most entrees. One option is the birria brisket bowl, which includes house rice, birria sauce, cheese, onion and cilantro. More commonly, customers will order the birria tacos, which come with cheese, onion and cilantro and can be dipped into consommé.
Deep-Fried and Delicious | Chimichangas
The menu is balanced with some Tex-Mex staples and some dishes unique to Arod’s. Many dishes are super cheesy, like the Tex-Mex classic, the chimichanga. A flour tortilla is stuffed with cheese, beans, rice, onion and cilantro, plus your choice of meat including birria, ground beef, chicken or spicy pork.
Pick and Choose | Combo No. 5
To get a taste of multiple meats, Arod’s offers combinations. One of the most common orders is Combo No. 5: two “fat and cheesy” tacos and two quesadillas. The combo is served with hot sauce, beans and rice. Options for meat include ground beef, chicken, brisket, spicy pork, steak, shrimp or pork belly — and you can choose multiple meats within the combination — inside the corn tortilla tacos and flour tortilla quesadillas.
Flavors From Around the Globe
Arod’s Tex Mex & American Grill’s premier location is part of the diverse lineup of restaurants in the Global Market & Food Hall. The market opened in 2020 and sits opposite an Asian grocery store, which claims to be the largest in Wisconsin. Global Market & Food Hall aims to promote all different types of food, and the diversity is evident within the stores located there. Even if you don’t know what you want, a quick lap around the food court will help you make up your mind and leave you planning for when you return. Or you could just sample a little of everything.
Find Arod’s Tex Mex & American Grill: Global Food Market, 2161 Zeier Road; Madison West, 703 S. Gammon Road; 608-405-5878, arodstexmex.com
Emily Knepple is a former Madison Magazine editorial intern. This article appeared in the August issue of Madison Magazine.
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