In what will be the third local restaurant to open in his growing hospitality group, Chef Tyler Fenton announced that BATA, a project drawing from what he calls “the legends and lore of fire,” will open its doors in downtown Tucson’s Warehouse Arts District on Wed., Mar. 9.
BATA is located at 35 E. Toole Avenue, occupying a 1930’s historic warehouse that has been completely reimagined, with original wood and metal bow truss ceilings contrasted with contemporary touches like a shou sugi ban soffit made from heavily charred wood.
Anchoring the BATA kitchen is a custom live-fire hearth, where Chef Fenton and team will explore the taste and textures of cooking with fire while drawing influence from global cooking techniques.
“Each of the 18 or so dishes on our menu will be touched by fire in some way,” said Fenton, BATA’s owner and executive chef. “Some are small and subtle, others are bold and in-your-face, and we want to showcase the entire range that cooking with fire represents.”
Among the dishes with more subtle expressions of fire is the beef tartare, garnished with a fermented and flame-dried green onion powder that Fenton says will “deliver just a hint of smoke in a cold, raw dish.” On the stronger side of the spectrum, Fenton says the grilled pork belly, “served with a jet-black sauce made from several ingredients that are burned in the fireplace,” will offer plenty of smokey depth.
Vegetables take center stage on most of the menu, with vegetarian dishes available, and adjustments can be made to some of them for those adopting a vegan lifestyle.
The small plate-format menu will evolve on a daily basis as the restaurant focuses on in-house whole animal butchery as well as sourcing produce locally. Additionally, the culinary team will be milling Arizona-grown grains every day for the nightly menu.
On the beverage side, guests will see a thoughtfully curated list of cocktails, wines, beers, and spirits that Fenton says is approachable enough to “strip away guest decision paralysis.”
Among BATA’s six signature and rotating cocktails are the Chiricahua, with mezcal, Oaxacan rum, cherry shrub, and egg white, the Bigelow, with BATA gin selection, dry vermouth, fino, rosehip bitters, and pickled nopal, and the Apis Mellifera, with small batch bourbon, Southern Arizona honey, and bitters. Four zero-proof cocktails are also available.
BAR BATA, a dedicated bar and lounge which Fenton is building in the restaurant’s basement, is expected to open in May. “This will be a casual off-shoot of the restaurant, and we will be pulling from our favorite drinking cultures,” said Fenton. “High atop the list is Spain, where it’s typical for people to get off of work, relax, and enjoy a glass of vermouth and snacks like olives, high quality canned fish, and sliced-to-order jamon.”
The restaurant’s main dining room will accommodate 90 guests. The private dining room will seat 14, and capacity for the event space, for larger groups, is 40.
Filling out BATA’s team is chef de cuisine David Solorzano, a veteran on the local culinary scene, and longtime Tucson barman Karl Goranowski, who serves as corporate beverage director.
Fenton continues to run his restaurants as a family business, with his sister, Courtney Fenton, taking on the role of operations manager for all locations, and his brother, Zach Fenton, as CFO. A total of 20 positions will be filled at the new restaurant.
BATA’s initial hours of operation will be Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 5:00 – 9:00 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:00 – 10:00 pm.
In addition to BATA, Fenton also owns and operates Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink, with locations at 101 E. Pennington Street and 7262 N. Oracle Road. For additional information and reservations, visit www.BataTucson.com, and @BataTucson on Instagram and Facebook.