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Happy Belly Tacos east takes over The Collective 

click to enlarge GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell

Happy Belly Tacos, 7702 Barnes Road, 344-9931, hbtacos.com

Formerly housing The Collective, this expansion of Mark Henry’s Westside Mexican spot opened in December 2019 as a collaboration between Collective co-owner Sean Fitzgerald and Henry. Fitzgerald greets us at the end of the bar, telling us that it’s all Henry and co. in back, while he’s taking lead on the bar brain trust.

He’s concocted three cocktails on tap: a classic margarita, a skinny marg and the Mexican Firing Squad cocktail he’s offered before at the Wobbly Olive. We’ve enjoyed its mix of house pomegranate grenadine, lime juice, habanero shrub and Tres Agaves blanco tequila mixed fresh; lime juice tends to oxidize fast, but our tapped cocktail still tastes fresh, so we’ll call it a success. We try three birria tacos, which come rich and intensely beefy with shredded beef stewed in a Jaliscoan blend of chiles and tomatoes.

The meat lacks the clove and other spice notes we’ve had in other versions, but we get nice tomato, chile and onion flavors. Not too shabby.

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