Zumba Mexican Grille Brings Southwestern Flair to Birmingham
Restaurant expands from its Royal Oak base with a longer menu and more space.
Buzz, ring and boom. That is the English translation of the Spanish word Zumba and Birmingham's newest Mexican restaurant, Zumba Mexican Grille, lives up to all three.
The Mexican restaurant, which opened June 13 at 163 W. Maple Rd., is an extension of the Zumba from downtown Royal Oak and prepares fresh Mexican food inspired by owner Tim Castaneda's personal history.
After 10 years in Royal Oak, Castaneda wanted to branch out. He didn't want to stray too far from his existing customer base and he wanted to be in downtown Birmingham. When Adventures in Toys moved across the street in 2008, Castaneda moved in.
“The reception has been great,” Castaneda said. “We’ve been accepted very well.”
Castaneda said he was inspired to create many of Zumba's signature dishes by the time he spent traveling the American Southwest. Food at Zumba is ordered cafeteria-style: quickly and efficiently. Customers travel down a line, directing employees how to prepare their orders, while listening to the reggaeton booming in the air.
For persons new to Zumba Mexican Grille, Castaneda recommends the Ground Beef Crispy Taco. His personal favorite is the Mexican Chicken Burrito. Zumba's signature dish is the Tacon -- Castaneda's interpretation of a chimichanga.
For Alize Bartolone, a massage therapist with a practice in Birmingham, Zumba's attraction was its convenience.
“I'm eating a Bowl-Rito and I love it," Bartolone said. "It has all the burrito toppings in a bowl, and I can eat it like nachos with my chips. It’s my first time in the Birmingham location, but I’ve been to the Royal Oak location. I think it’s great. It’s very fresh. It’s simple. I like all the ingredients and I think it’s a good price."
The Birmingham restaurant is noticeably different from the Royal Oak Zumaba. Birmingham has nachos and salads as well as a red chili chicken soup that will premiere late in the summer. The Birmingham restaurant also has more tables, more seats and three outdoor tables.
“It’s is bigger. It’s nicer. It’s really clean,” said Lori Cohn, who ordered fish tacos. “It is fast, it’s really good. I didn’t really like either of those (Chipotle’s and Quoba). I just like Zumba’s. Less variety, but it’s really fresh."
Cohn said she had been to the Zumba in Royal Oak but already prefers the Birmingham location.
" I thought it was great (when it opened in Birmingham) because I’m not in Royal Oak that much."