Southern comfort

Basalt features a blend of Tex-Mex and local flavors.
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Photo by Teri Genovese

If the savory smell of carnitas and tortillas doesn’t catch your attention, the dark blue building covered in green house plants on the corner of Wealthy Street and Ethel Avenue will draw you in.

Texas native Steven Martinez-Thiel decided to combine his knowledge of Tex-Mex cooking with Michigan’s penchant for home-grown ingredients in 2019 with the creation of his open-air food trailer. He began parking the trailer at the Fulton Street Farmers Market, before transitioning the venture into a brick-and-mortar location, 1450 Wealthy St. SE, by the name of Basalt.

Basalt’s menu includes, clockwise from top, whole limeade, esquites, a tazón bowl and popcorn churros. Photo by Teri Genovese

Martinez-Thiel could be found at the farmers market every Saturday slinging breakfast tacos and tamales with the foundational knowledge garnered from his dad, who used to teach him in the kitchen, and his own added twist of incorporating Michigan ingredients.

“My palate really became more adventurous when I moved to Grand Rapids and started working in restaurants and working in places that were doing some more unique things with food,” Martinez-Thiel said.

Basalt’s sophisticated menu includes 12 different takes on the Tex-Mex taco, most of which are focused on the always delicious breakfast taco. The brick-and-mortar location also offers tortas, quesadillas, bowls and even a few sweet items, all made from scratch and created from locally grown ingredients for an even more flavorful and seasonal taste.

One of the bestsellers from the farmers market is more than likely to be making an appearance on the fall menu.

“We called it the ‘Cheese Boy’ and it was essentially a chorizo grilled cheese on our house-made telera rolls,” Martinez-Thiel said. “I can see that being really great with a red pozole for the fall and winter, you know, really warm and comforting — plus grilled cheese is, like, the best.”

Basalt’s original trailer is still hitting the road and can be rented for events such as weddings, galas and even holiday parties for the upcoming winter season.

For both a comforting environment and a warm meal with all the best parts of both Texas and Michigan, Basalt is one of the must-try locations for breakfast, brunch or any other time of day with friends and family.

This story can be found in the September/October 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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