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Walrus Roadside Stand brings West Coast-inspired casual cuisine to Columbia

Desmond Reilly couldn’t stand seeing the 25-seat private dining room at The Walrus Oyster & Ale House at The Mall in Columbia go unused during the pandemic.

“I was going into work every day looking at this empty room,” said Reilly, managing principal of Star Restaurant Groups, which owns The Walrus Oyster & Ale House. “There is nothing worse than being a restaurateur seeing an unused space in your restaurant.”

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The Clarksville resident knew Howard County’s diverse population would likely embrace a concept that honored the melding of cultures. Hence, Walrus Roadside Stand was conceived.

Reilly contacted Enrique Limardo, whom he calls “one of the best Latin chefs in America,” to curate a menu that would reflect the Mexican-inspired cuisine found throughout the California coastline.

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From left, Enrique Limardo, chef, and Des Reilly, owner, outside the Walrus Roadside Stand, which opened in June to offer a casual counterpart to the Walrus Oyster & Ale House at The Mall at Columbia. The Walrus Roadside Stand, with its walk-up window and outdoor seating, serves tacos, hot dogs, burgers and soft serve ice cream. Sept. 27, 2021 p1
From left, Enrique Limardo, chef, and Des Reilly, owner, outside the Walrus Roadside Stand, which opened in June to offer a casual counterpart to the Walrus Oyster & Ale House at The Mall at Columbia. The Walrus Roadside Stand, with its walk-up window and outdoor seating, serves tacos, hot dogs, burgers and soft serve ice cream. Sept. 27, 2021 p1 (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Limardo, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, led the kitchen at Alma Cocina Latina [a Venezuelan restaurant] in Baltimore from 2014 to 2019. His debut restaurant Seven Reasons, in Washington, D.C., which specializes in South American cuisine, was named “America’s Best New Restaurant” by Esquire in 2019.

For Walrus Roadside, Limardo tapped into his time living in Mexico for the inexpensive, yet flavorful, and filling menu items that comprise the offerings at the newly opened restaurant.

“I always wanted to do a taco stand. I loved cruising up California and going to these tiny roadside stands. It was a mecca of Mexican and Latino cuisine,” Reilly recalled.

Limardo, who spent 12 years living around the world including a two-year stint in Mexico, put together a “beautiful but simplistic menu,” where customers can get a burger, hot dog or taco, according to Reilly.

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In addition to the restaurant being “quick and delicious,” Reilly also touts the price point. Hot dogs are $1.50 and tacos are $3.50.

The tacos are a jewel of the offerings. Limardo created a bevy of exciting tacos including crispy cod, chicken al pastor and tempura oyster. He also recommends wild style, which is a mixture of brisket and sweet bacon.

And the décor of the new concept is as flashy and enticing as the food, according to Reilly and Limardo.

“It’s a completely different looking space,” Reilly said of the 359-square-foot spinoff. “It’s a total throwback to the car culture of the 1960s when everyone used to drive around to drive-ins and takeouts.”

Reilly said he wanted to use the new concept as a way to “attract a different type of people who couldn’t afford to spend $35 on a lobster roll.”

Reilly added: “It is a great way for them to try [Limardo’s] food. [Walrus Roadside] gets them connected to a chef that they might not be able to. It’s a great offering for the community.”

In 2017, Reilly and Limardo teamed up for Chicken + Whiskey, a fast-casual concept that specializes in rotisserie chicken. The two met in 2016 when Reilly and his wife would eat at Alma Cocina Latina.

So far, the response to the restaurant has been great, Reilly said.

Walrus Roadside only magnifies the diversity of the area, Reilly said, adding: “That really resonates with Columbia. And you see it. We sold more than 200 tacos yesterday. It’s a mixture of everything that Columbia is. People really dig the mashup of cultures here, which I really love.”

Walrus Roadside Stand. Open 7 days a week 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia. walrusoysterandale.com/roadside

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