Little Coyote To Open Monday, Nov. 13, In St. Elmo

  • Monday, November 6, 2023

Little Coyote, the third concept of husband-and-wife team Erik and Amanda Niel and newest addition to their long-standing Chattanooga locales (Easy Bistro & Bar and Main Street Meats) will officially open its doors to the public on Monday, Nov. 13. Located at 3950 Tennessee Ave. in the historic St. Elmo neighborhood, the restaurant is Chef Erik’s ode to his time in Texas, offering smoked meats and house-made tortillas that stole his heart while living there.

Under Erik’s guidance, Culinary Director Jonathan Ferguson and Chef de Cuisine Tyler Gil helm the kitchen, while the agave-driven beverage program is led by Bar Manager Garth Poe.

Offering a welcoming, laid back atmosphere, Little Coyote is a walk-in only restaurant. 

Review for Little Coyote:

The menu is a compilation of influences from Texas barbecue, Cuban, Caribbean, and Southwestern cuisine—focusing on tortillas as the vessel to eat and enjoy. Using a 10cm handheld corn tortilla roller press and oven from Mexico, the team makes all tortillas in-house from the finest dry nixtamalized masa harina (a process where the grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, then dried and ground). Rendered lard from Main Street Meats is added to the tortillas in the cooking process (although vegetarian tortillas are also available, simply using masa and water). 

Little Coyote’s family-style experience focuses around house-smoked meats, which are prepared in a wood-fire pit in the back of the restaurant that will be in operation day and night. It starts with nine small plates, or Chiquitas, which includes dishes like Plantain “Hush Puppies” with pork skin, scallion, and habanero aioli, Bay Scallops in Aguachile Blanco with granny smith apple, and plantain chips, Cactus Paddle Salad with oregano indio, red onion, and cotija, as well as Pork Belly Burnt Ends in a mole coloradito, cotija, and pickled chilis. The seven larger-format dishes, Fuertes, include options such as Pork Collar with salsa cacahuate, and braised greens, Beef Cheek Barbacoa with delicata squash, Red Fish “On the Half Shell” in a chorizo butter with red kuri squash, and a vegetarian option of Smoked Honeynut Squash with caramelized tomatoes and a bean salad. The three Lados, or sides, consist of Frijoles “De La Cola” using classic Coca-Cola, guajillo, and chorizo, Tostones in confit garlic and lime, and Puerto Rican Rice with smoked pork—for dessert, two rotating soft serve ice creams with different accompaniments (currently Abuelitas Hot Chocolate with cocoa nibs and Vanilla with guajillo). 

Bar Manager Garth Poe built the beverage program around more than 100 varieties of agave spirits, including a diverse portfolio of tequilas, sotol, raicilla, mezcal and more. The menu itself showcases a selection of craft cocktails - some that will be served from five custom draft lines installed behind the bar so that intensity of flavor and carbonation can be carefully customized - draft beer, a curated choice of Spanish and Mexican wines, as well as a variety of thoughtful zero-proof cocktails. A few to highlight include a carbonated Paloma with blanco tequila, lime, house-made grapefruit-fennel cordial, and a touch of salt, an Agua Ranchero that showcases sotol, blanco tequila, lime juice, lime cordial, ancho chile liqueur, and a jalapeño tincture, a Margarita using the elote-based liquor, Nixta, blanco tequila, Naranja, lime cordial, and lime juice, and the Coyotito–consisting of a spice-infused crème de cacao, Mexican coffee liqueur, mole bitters, turbinado syrup, and saline. The bar also features two rotating frozen cocktails including the Texas Flood with blanco tequila, mezcal, lime juice, Aperol, ancho chile liqueur, and blood orange, as well as a Little Coyote take on the Piña Colada. 

Set against terracotta tiles, turquoise and copper elements compliment the light wood throughout the space which was designed by Amanda in partnership with local architecture firm, Tinker Ma. A fluid indoor-outdoor concept, the restaurant offers an open and airy interior dining space, as well as a large outdoor patio equipped for all four seasons and complete with its own bar. Woven tapestries, greenery, cacti, and earth tones act as the backdrop for guests, further elevating the atmosphere in warmth and a modern feel. 

Little Coyote will be open Sunday - Thursday from 4-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4-10 p.m. 


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