Restaurant Openings: January/February 2019 : New Worlder

New restaurants and bars are always popping up. To save you the trouble, we’ve put together a list of noteworthy openings on the culinary scene across the Americas (and beyond). If you missed our last list (November/December 2018), you can check it out here.

Empellón Al Pastor — New York City, New York

Once home to April Bloomfield’s now-shuttered Salvation Taco, chef Alex Stupak opens a second location of Empellón Al Pastor, at Murray Hill’s POD 39 hotel. While the original Al Pastor in the East Village began with an eight-item menu of tacos and guacamole, this new location offers a 25-item comfort food menu. Featuring dishes from the original, it also boasts new items including broiled oysters with hoja santa and bacon, fried chicken sandwiches with cucumbers and toum, Chihuahua sticks with tomato-chipotle sauce, and corn masa ice cream bars. Also new? A weekend brunch menu. The cocktail menu focuses on margaritas, beers, and shots as well as a few tiki inspired cocktails. In the spring, the new Al Pastor will also launch a roof top bar on the 17th floor of the POD 39. empellon.com

El Chino Dim Sum — Bogota, Colombia

The second restaurant from the team behind Amen Ramen, located in the neighborhood of Chapinero Alto, chefs de cuisine Isaac Monroy and Mar Diaz put forth their signature style of dim sum which utilizes local Colombian ingredients and classic Chinese technique. Add a vibrant bar program that showcases the biodiverse fruits that come out of Bogota and its surrounding markets, the informal atmosphere relies on background jazz during the day and boogaloo and salsa by night.

Zocalito Latin Bistro — Denver, Colorado

After 14 years in Aspen, Chef/Owner Michael Beary of Zocalito Latin Bistro opens in Denver, offering the same menu of authentic Oaxacan ingredients that the Aspen location was known for. Beary has traveled widely throughout Mexico working directly with Oaxacan farmers and artisans to supply him with everything from rare chiles to roasted grasshoppers, while the decor is full of masks, costumes and wood carvings from Beary’s travels throughout the country..  Signature dishes include steamed mussels with achiote mole, red pozole, skirt steak in negro mole, and several kinds of chile rellenos. The 100-seat restaurant also features an outdoor patio. http://www.zocalito.com

Chaia Tacos — Washington D.C.

The second location of this popular pop-up stand at local farmers’ markets (which grew to its first brick and mortar shop in Georgetown) is bringing its tacos made with seasonal vegetables, its homemade salsas and handmade tortillas to DC’s Mount Vernon Triangle. Menu highlights include taco favorites like Chaia’s Creamy Kale and Potato and Braised Mushroom, as well as rotating seasonal tacos, such as Roasted Butternut Squash and Citrus-Roasted Beet. The new “Beyond Tacos” section of the menu includes El Bol, aka taco fillings over grains and “Sides” like Carrot-Kohlrabi Slaw, as well as vegan and gluten-free sweets. Craft beer, wine, and cocktails on also on tap. Anchoring the space is a large comal wherein Chaia’s tortillas are hand-pressed and cooked.  www.chaiatacos.com

Café La Trova — Miami, Florida

After 15 years of friendship and collaboration, award-winning bartender/mixologist Julio Cabrera and James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein opened Café La Trova on Calle Ocho in Miami’s Little Havana. The beverage-focused spot is complemented by classic Cuban cuisine. With live music and an outdoor patio on which to enjoy cigars, the concept is named for traditional Cuban music, known as La Trova. Two separate bars will be helmed by Cabrera, one featuring drinks from the ’50s, like the Daiquiri and the Presidente. A sister bar will pay tribute to 1980’s Miami with cocktails like the Cosmopolitan and Grasshopper. An all-day café will be run by chef Raulito Salgado, former chef of La Floridita in Havana, Cuba, and dishes will include Paella Croquetas and  Calabaza and Black Garlic Empanadas.  http://www.cafelatrova.com

Pilar Cuban Bakery — Brooklyn, New York

Ricardo Barreras, chef/owner of Brooklyn’s Pilar Cuban Eatery, is bringing New York City its first authentic Cuban bakery. Serving an array of savory and sweet Cuban treats including pastelitos or pastries with fillings ranging from ham and cheese to guava and cream cheese; croquettes; empanadas; empanada gallega (Spanish meat pie filled with cod or chorizo); and Cuban tamales made with ground fresh corn, sofrito and roast pork or seafood. Sandwiches on house-made bread like a typical Cuban, the Croqueta Preparada (a Cuban with two ham croquettes), and the Porkinator with pork five ways (housemade chorizo, ham croquettes, ham-pimento spread, Serrano ham and chicharrones) will accompany sweet treats, coffee, and non-coffee drinks include batidospilarny.com

Emília – Mexico City, Mexico

Named for chef Lucho Martinez’s daughter, this anticipated spot opened at the end of last year in central Cuauhtémoc’s Little Tokyo. The design aesthetic here is stunning; an open kitchen and marble U-shaped dining counter anchor a tasting menu of about a dozen seasonally driven dishes. The chef, who has worked at career-making restaurants like Quintonil, Máximo, Lalo, and Mia Domenicca has partnered with Edo Kobayashi here, and infuses his dishes with a Japanese nuance. An ala carte menu is available beginning in February. Reservations via Tock. https://www.emilia.rest

El Sandwich Bar – Panama City, Panama

From Luis Mendizábal, winner of Top Chef Panama‘s second season, and formerly of David’s, this casual spot serving sandwiches, salads, soups, and so forth, is a small, casual spot that gathers sandwiches from around the world under one roof. From the Tripleta to the Cubano to the Club to the Fried Fish Sandwich, lovers of all that lies between two pieces of bread can rejoice.  http://sandwichbarpanama.com

Celele – Cartagena, Colombia

The chefs behind Proyecto Caribe Lab — Jaime Rodríguez and Sebastián Pinzón — have been researching the forgotten foods Colombia’s Caribbean for over two years: documenting recipes and techniques of traditional, popular and ancestral cooking, cataloging products and species, training vulnerable communities with a vision of sustainability, and tapping producers, fishermen, farmers and artisans for their pop-up dinners, cooking classes, and gastro-tours. Now, going beyond their pop-ups to showcase the wonderful plates that can evolve from such exploration, they’re opening a new restaurant in the city’s Getsemani neighborhood with a continued emphasis on using food as an agent of social change. Early dishes include sailfish in sour guava reduction and candied pork on roasted vegetables in a bed of beans, yams and guandu, or pigeon peas.  celelerestaurante.com

Florie’s — Palm Beach, Florida

In partnership with Argentine chef Mauro Colagreco, of Mirazur in France, Florie’s at the Four Seasons Palm Beach is the chef’s first U.S. restaurant, and anticipation is high; as Mirazur just received three Michelin stars for the first time (up from two). Inspired by his Mediterranean spirit and multicultural background, Florie’s is centered around fire cooking and ingredients from the restaurant’s garden. The bar features seasonal, garden-driven cocktails and sustainable wines. fourseasons.com

Blackberry Mountain Restaurants — Walland, Tennessee

There are two restaurants attached to the new Blackberry Mountain resort from the Beall family’s beloved Blackberry Farm.  The property’s flagship restaurant, Three Sisterswill be overseen by Chef Josh Feathers, a Tennessee native. Named after the three-peaked mountain on which the resort is located, the restaurants will offer seasonal menus that pay homage to locally sourced, fresh ingredients and the bounty of the Great Smoky Mountains. Menu items might include Pumpkin al a Plancha, Foragers Salad with Persimmon-Onion Dressing, and Pan-Seared Fingerling Trout with Marinated Crawfish.

The Firetower is overseen by Chef Joel Werner, and located at the peak of the mountain at 2,843 feet. Built around a restored historic fire tower originally used by the U.S. Forest Service for scouting fires in the Great Smoky Mountains, guests can climb to the lookout station for a 360-degree view of the valley. Now, a 72-seat dining room and 13-seat bar with stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains, Firetower will serve breakfast, lunch and snacks. Dishes could include Breakfast Egg Bowl with Sweet Potato Hash, Wilted Greens and Crispy Grains, Shaved Cauliflower Bowl with Farro, and Thai, Italian or French-Style Mussels 

The beverage program at both restaurants will be built around the property’s custom-designed, subterranean wine cellar that features over 10,000 bottles.  www.blackberrymountain.com

Barrel House and Taproom — Maryville, Tennessee

Blackberry Farm Brewery is opening Barrel House and Taproom adjacent to the brewery’s production facility and canning line. Offering the Brewery’s first consumer experience, the spot will offer the opportunity to sample many of Blackberry Farm Brewery’s award-winning beers, including Classic Saison, Fenceline and Boundary Tree poured on tap, in addition to a rotating selection of exclusive beers available on tap and in limited can runs. With a total of 12 beers on tap and seating for 50, the Brewery plans to host food trucks at the Barrel House and Taproom on weekends upcoming to pair with the drinks. www.blackberryfarmbrewery.com

Al Toke Pez — Lima, Peru

This tiny, five seat no frills Nikkei restaurant with some of Lima’s best food for the past seven years has moved to a new location at Avenida Angamos Este 1941 in Surquillo, just a couple of blocks from the original. This one is bigger and more formal, though with a similar menu that includes Tomás Matsufuji’s sudados, ceviches, fried seafood, and other plates. The prices remain extremely accessible. Facebook page.

News & Notes

Zest Puerto Rican Grill Room presents a new menu created by executive chef Jesús Padilla Berrios where the flavors, aromas, colors and textures of Puerto Rican cuisine are on display and include snacks such as crunchy fresh local fish cracklings and alcapurrias montaditos, while main courses included a selection of stuffed mofongos, a classic steak, and local favorite arroz mamposteao and majado of local meats.

Outstanding in the Field, the pioneering table-to-farm dining series, returned to Mexico in January to highlight food and drink from Oaxaca and Guanajuato. In addition to the two events in Mexico, Outstanding in the Field’s 12-event 2019 Winter Tour includes two dinners in Oahu, Hawaii, and several events in Florida, where OITF will set its long table on a shrimp dock on the penultimate island before Key West (Stock Island) and along the shores of the Panhandle for a benefit to aid those affected by Hurricane Michael. Click through to see the full Outstanding in the Field 2019 Winter Tour schedule.

Hotel Matilda has named one of Mexico City’s most acclaimed chefs, Francisco Ibañez, the executive chef of Moxi. Ibañez comes to Moxi from Pujol, where he was executive chef of Enrique Olvera’s internationally celebrated restaurant that has long been rated the best in Mexico and among the best in the world.

José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup announced the upcoming opening of the first-ever brick-and-mortar location of its beloved Spanish food truck, Pepe by José Andrés, opening this winter at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Attached to the upcoming Jaleo location at Disney Springs, Pepe will feature an extensive menu of hot and cold Spanish-style sandwiches including bocatas and bikinis, showcasing the best of José’s native Spain. Additionally, salads, soups and sides along with Spanish sangria will be served.

Header photo of Jalapeño Poppers courtesy of Empellon Al Pastor at the Pod Hotel in New York City. Photo Credit: Evan Sung.