‘Tulum meets Sayulita meets Big Sky’ in new Mexican restaurant
By Bella Butler MANAGING EDITOR
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story reported that Tres Toros would open on Sept. 7. Due to a change in the restaurant’s plans, this story has been updated to reflect that Tres Toros will open on Sept. 8.
BIG SKY – Just days ahead of opening his new Mexican joint, Tres Toros, local restauranteur Twist Thompson sits on the restaurant’s patio of the ground floor of The Wilson Hotel surrounded by construction materials. He’s talking about Copal, a fragrant tree resin used as an incense by indigenous people in what’s now Mexico.
“You light a piece of charcoal and put this crystallized Copal on it and it just smokes and just makes this just stunning, beautiful kind of piney, light smell. So we’ll probably try to burn some of that out here,” he says, scanning the vacant patio. “It’s just another level of immersion.”
For Thompson, who owns four restaurants in Page, Arizona, as well as the vibrant Blue Buddha Sushi Lounge in Big Sky just a few steps away from Tres Toros, restaurants are about the details—details that inform culture.
Thompson and his two business partners, Brandon Blanchard and Josh Sauers, will open the doors to Tres Toros on Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. Though it’s new—with kinks yet to be ironed out, Thompson says—the restaurant promises to deliver the same unique experience that Thompson’s other local business has come to be known for: an alchemy of cultural theatrics and eclectic pieces of the owner himself.
Thompson’s Big Sky restaurants are local capsules for cultures that he loves. He characterizes the “looseness” of Mexican culture with descriptions of overloaded tacos and the “structured” nature of Japanese culture with the precise cuts of sashimi and tightly bound sushi rolls.
Thompson said with Tres Toros, he and his partners—the three for which the restaurant was named—were shooting for a “Tulum meets Sayulita meets Big Sky vibe,” or in other words, according to Thompson: “Kind of ultra loungy, kind of beachy, kind of laid-back and easygoing, but still kind of hip and upbeat and future-forward.”
The menu, crafted by head chef Mark Christian Mcmann, is laden with a fusion of authenticity and contemporary swank. Take, for example, the stuffed pickled jalapenos, or the jackfruit pibil taco. Similar to the sushi roll list at Blue Buddha, Thompson said, the menu features a flashy lineup of $6-9 tacos that can be ordered in whatever quantity. Rounding out the offerings are a host of appetizers, quesadillas, burritos and nachos with a price point all between $12 and $16.
As for the drinks, customers can wash down dinner with an array of craft cocktails featuring liquors with local labels like 406 Agave and Willie’s Distillery, or for those subscribing to more to the Sayulita vibe, perhaps a Modelo or Pacifico.
After nursing a dream of opening a Mexican restaurant since around the time Buddha opened three years ago, the Toros partners took advantage of an open space in The Wilson when former gift shop Relic merged with Montana Supply.
Thompson said it proved challenging to convert a retail location into a restaurant—colorful murals and eclectic décor will spare customers the space’s recent history of adding grease traps, water lines and floor drainage—but the outpouring of support he’s received from the community make the toil worth it.
“[These restaurants] aren’t even just a want, it’s almost a need in this blooming town to give it a few shiny more petals,” he said.