Tuesday, July 23, 2013

En Su Boca arrives.... and its been worth the wait

The past few years have seen major changes and development in Richmond’s “Boulnobro” (Boulevard north of Broad) neighborhood. The Bowtie and Criterion Cinemas have been packing in crowds since they opened, and Fat Dragon Chinese Kitchen and Bar have delighted folks with its Asian fusion and ”Sex on Tap.” 

With the recent uptick in traffic and retail, it’s an opportune time for more restaurants to open in the neighborhood. Randy O’Dell and Patrick Stamper, veterans of the Richmond restaurant community (Mezzanine and Bellytimber, among others), have launched their new venture, En Su Boca, a Mexican restaurant modeled after a San Francisco Mission District taqueria. The two are working with a third partner, Johnson & Wales-educated Eric Stangarone, a chef and restaurant consultant. He has developed the menu for the restaurant and will manage the kitchen activities.                                                                                                             
The building, like many in RVA, is steeped in history, housing Triangle Bookstore, with its range of adult activities, for almost 30 years. En Su Boca’s adult entertainment will be of a different sort, with an extensive bar menu featuring high-end tequila, specialty drinks, and frozen margaritas.                                                                                                                                    

The space itself has been gutted and expanded, with local artisan Josh Kayer providing the woodwork and Ed Trask creating multiple murals and paintings. Other local artists are hand- blowing glass for light fixtures. The restaurant has seating for 120, with 60 inside and 60 on an outside patio—a perfect place to hang out pre- or post-movie or ballgame.     

There was a buzz in the air when I stopped by for dinner tonight, and a 45 minute wait for a table. I joined a few friends at the bar where we shared a few appetizers- crispy and spicy chicken wings al Pastor, and a tasty plate of chicharrones-fries pork rinds.

Tacos are my Mexican litmus test, and En Su Boca passed with flying colors. I sampled 4 of the 5 taco offerings, including- slow roasted carnitas, carne asada, fried fish with cumin creme and cabbage and house made chorizo. They made for an impressive line-up,all piled high flavorful meat and topped with  fresh cilantro, salsa, and sauteed onions.

I look forward to diving into the menu more extensively over the next few months. 

En Su Boca is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

(portions originally published in Grid Magazine)