Bonita Mexican Steakhouse & Latin Inspired Grill Set to Open in Old Maui Chop House Spot in Rocky Point

After closing his family-owned restaurant La Bonita Tacos & Tequila in Coram, Steve Salazar wanted to forge ahead with something new. He is opening a new place called Bonita Mexican Steakhouse & Latin Inspired Grill where Infinity Tavern briefly opened this year and was also the site before that of Maui Chophouse in the Crossroads Plaza Shopping Center off Route 25A in Rocky Point.

When Steve Salazar was around 12-years-old, his father, Raul, got into the restaurant business and stayed in it for decades in some form or another. For the past nine years, the senior Salazar ran his Mexican food restaurant La Bonita Tacos & Tequila in Pine Plaza off of Route 112 – in the same shopping center as Movieland Coram – until he decided to retire at age 82 and closed up shop this July.

Despite growing up around restaurants his whole life with his dad, Steve Salazar forged his own path, heading off to Wall Street, then using his artistic skills as a designer and a tattoo artist, but it seems that the food business weaved its way into this DNA and he always came back to it. The entire time his father owned La Bonita, Salazar served as general manager so when they finally shut their doors he found himself searching for what to do next.

“I was thinking about what I wanted to do with my life,” Salazar told

Salazar thought he might go back to work as a tattoo artist or even find a job as a graphic designer but he decided that he just wasn’t done with the food industry or La Bonita for that matter.

So Salazar searched around for a new site for his next endeavor. With the help of Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner – who he credits with helping him find space – Salazar landed upon a spot in the Crossroads Plaza Shopping Center in Rocky Point.

Over the years, a number of different bars and restaurants have been in the space. Many years ago it was a Viva Juan Mexican Restaurant. (Some remember when it was a Pancake Cottage.) Then around 2013 it transformed into BBD – Beers, Burgers, & Desserts, a craft beer bar and restaurant. A few years ago BBDs morphed into Maui Chophouse, serving up Hawaiian cuisine, which closed up shop and became a food truck. In the blink of an eye Infinity Tavern opened and closed up there this year.

While they had many fans at the Coram location, Salazar felt it was time to move on and the North Shore seemed like the right fit.

“It’s a place we feel good about,” he said.

Salazar took the time to drive around and check out other restaurants in the area and felt it was right for what he wanted to do with his new concept. He plans to build on the traditions that his father put in place at La Bonita and evolve them into something with a little bit more flair. The result will be Bonita Mexican Steakhouse & Latin Inspired Grill.

“It’s something I’ve been dreaming up for a long time,” he said.

At La Bonita, Salazar had already started innovating, infusing his natural creativity into the menu. He had put together a steak flight; like the beer or bourbon flights that you might have seen before but with steak.

“There are five steaks and you choose three of them like angus, sirloin and skirt for your flight,” he said.

Steak flights will be on the menu at the new place. He said they will bring over the basics that they always had at La Bonita plus some new variations and additions.

“La Bonita was more Mexican tacos and tequila,” he said. “This is a steakhouse and Latin-inspired grill.”

Expect Cuban, Brazilian and Venezuelan influences along with some of the same Mexican menu items previous diners came to love about La Bonita.

“We will still have the stalwarts,” he said. “We’re holding to our roots.”

In that same vein, Salazar says his dad is always on hand to consult and bounce ideas off but since dad is out of the game he partnered up with someone new.

“A regular customer of mine at La Bonita was very interested in the restaurant business and we became friends,” he said.

That customer is Adam Bianchino, a former stock broker and now a cryptocurrency investor. When he was thinking about branching out, Salazar gave Bianchino a call.

“Within half an hour he was in,” Salazar said.

The menu, the partnership and the space are all a blending of the traditional and the new.

Salazar and Bianchino are doing a light renovation inside but the layout will stay the same. There’s seating for about 85 customers and more at the bar, according to Salazar. He plans to update the decor, adding color to the currently dim interior. Like La Bonita, he wants to liven the place up.

“It’s going to look very different,” he said. “Brighter.”

There is also a wood-fired grill left over from the Maui Chophouse days that they plan to use again.

At La Bonita, they had special event nights including a comedy night and a Salsa dance night that he expects to continue at the new place. He will also try to add live music to the mix.

Salazar signed the lease on Thursday and he expects that Bonita Mexican Steakhouse & Latin Inspired Grill will open within three months or so.

He hopes the community will embrace the new spot and old customers will come up and see them.

“I appreciate the love that La Bonita got when we were open,” he said. “I expect to provide the same quality and same service in Rocky Point.”

📷 Site of the new Bonita Mexican Steakhouse & Latin Inspired Grill at 49 Route 25A in Rocky Point.

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