Popular Puerto Rican eatery returns after brief hiatus. What’s new. (PHOTOS)

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Tropicaleo
Tropicaleo owner Gabriel Marrero. Photos by Jacob Blankenship via Bham Now.

Tropicaleo, the popular Puerto Rican and Latin American-inspired eatery on Crestwood Boulevard (4426 4th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222), returns this week after temporarily closing its doors in April 2021.

The restaurant is holding a soft opening on August 25-26 and a grand opening the following day, Friday, August 27th. 

The hours? Beginning this upcoming Wednesday for the soft opening, Tropicaleo will open every day at 11:00am. From Sunday to Thursday, they will close at 9:00pm. On Friday and Saturday, the restaurant will close at 11:00pm.

What’s New

Bar
Bar at Tropicaleo. Photos by Jacob Blankenship via Bham Now.

According to Gabriel Marrero, the owner of Tropicaleo, regulars should expect some exciting new changes.

Here are the new additions:

  • New Bar Program — Customers can expect amazing cocktails developed and served by a veteran bar staff.
  • Experienced Staff — The restaurant has hired kitchen staff that is familiar with plant-based menu options.
  • New Puerto Rican Ingredients and Seasonings — Thanks to its partnership with Southern Organics, Tropicaleo is going to have access to locally grown Puerto Rican ingredients and seasonings.

Like Grandmother’s Garden

Tropicaleo
Tropicaleo. Photos by Jacob Blankenship via Bham Now.

Adding locally sourced, organic and fresh vegetables and seasonings that are found in Puerto Rican gardens is what energizes Marrero the most.

“It’s very exciting. I’ve spent five years trying to find someone locally who can grow these things (vegetables & seasonings) for me. It’s now like basically going into my grandmother’s garden.”

Marrero is also thrilled to be working with Southern Organics because of their commitment to sustainability, which is one of his passions and a core value at Tropicaleo.

Murals, Murals, Murals

Perhaps almost as popular as Tropicaleo’s plant-based cuisine is its atmosphere and murals by local artists such as Vero Vanblaere, Merilee Challis, Brian Burks and more.

Bham Now photographer Jacob Blakenship provides us a sneak peek.

Sustainability mural
Mural by Vero Vanblaere at Tropicaleo. Photos by Jacob Blankenship via Bham Now.
Mural
Mural by Merilee Challis at Tropicaleo. Photos by Jacob Blankenship via Bham Now.
Mural
Mural with the skull by Brian Burks at Tropicaleo. Photos by Jacob Blankenship via Bham Now.

Hiatus — Recharging — Health

Back in April, Marrero cited the labor shortage and the need to reassess Tropicaleo’s business model for the temporary closure. 

“I saw a couple of things that were happening in the industry and I knew I needed to move and organize accordingly,” he told us.

Marrero has accomplished that task and more during the four-month hiatus, despite recently being diagnosed with epilepsy after experiencing a number of seizures.

He is working with medical professionals to find the cause.

“In the meantime, I’m not driving and I’ve been very careful—going to sleep early, not going out, you know, doing all the fun stuff, and working at the pace, not overdoing it.”

Welcome Back

Storefront
Tropicaleo. Photos by Jacob Blankenship via Bham Now.

If you are like me, I can’t wait to check out Tropicaleo’s new cocktails, fresh local ingredients, revamped menu, sustainability initiatives and bright new murals and renovations. 

Don’t miss the grand re-opening on Friday, August 27th.  

Tell us your favorite part about Tropicaleo – tag us on social media @bhamnow

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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