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Mama Coe's Tacos opening in Tuxedo

TUXEDO — Colleen Raulerson had spent weeks mulling a name for her taco shop when she had an epiphany. Her boys had done it for her.

A cook at the Trails therapeutic camp near DuPont State Forest, she had been teaching culinary arts to teenage boys since 2009.
“They’re away from their family and I became the surrogate mother,” she says. “They gave me the name.”
Thus was born Mama Coe’s Tacos, a “beach-style” taco shop serving craft beer, fresh salads and dessert specials opening this Saturday in the space last occupied by the Tuxedo Diner.
Raulerson was ready to try her hand at a food truck and planned to get advice from Trevon Dunn, who ran the Tuxedo Diner. For family reasons, Dunn was moving home to Wyoming. He suggested she rent the space he’d be vacating. Since then her husband, Michael, a contractor, has been renovating the shop. An artist was coming to paint a mural behind the bar later this week before opening day.
A native of Southern California, Raulerson promises San Diego-style tacos with fresh ingredients. She’s getting produce from a Crab Creek farm and is shopping for locally sourced meat.
The menu features tacos filled with shredded roast beef, slow-roasted pork shoulder, beer-braised chicken, Baja grilled shrimp or friend catfish, for $3.50; or two roasted veggie tacos for $4.50. The Mission Beach burrito ($8) comes with carne asada (steak) wrapped in a flour tortilla stuffed with French fries, cheese, guacamole and pico. The Tuxedo torta ($8) is filled with shredded beef, pork or chicken on a soft roll with lettuce, tomato, onions, guacamole, cheese and crema. The torta is also available with vegan refried black beans ($6.50). Snacks include house chips, house queso, chorizo queso and fried plantains.
Raulerson has cases of North Carolina craft beer stacked in the women’s restroom and ready for the cooler. She’ll have two taps, rotating with local craft beers, including Pisgah Pale Ale from Pisgah Forest. She’ll pick a second one before opening day.
“I polled my friends on social media” to choose draft beer, she says. “I got 96 responses.”
Although the taco shop is permitted for just 22 seats, Raulerson is eager to invite diners to enjoy her huge backyard.
“When I came over here to meet Kevin and he showed me this backyard, that was the selling point for me,” she says. She’s even got a stack of Mexican blankets she’ll loan out for a picnic on the grounds.

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Mama Coe’s Tacos, at 2185 Old U.S. 25, is scheduled to open Saturday. Initial hours will be 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. By Memorial Day weekend plans are to open regular hours of 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Dine-in and takeout will be available. Phone: 828.772.9171.