At the invitation of the restaurant, I checked out the two-week old New Orleans outpost of Johnny Sánchez, (the first one opened in Baltimore in August), the modern Mexican collaboration of John Besh and Aarón Sánchez. Upon arriving at the restaurant, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The high ceilings open to a cavernous space with two sides to it but no partition. One side seems more dressed up, while the other features a large communal table facing the bar and two large-screen TVs, showing football. Was I in a sports bar, a nice restaurant, or a canteen? No clue, but the food did not disappoint. I started with the refreshing tuna agua chile with cucumber, watermelon radish, avocado and serrano.
Executive chef Miles Landrem recommended his favorite tacos, papas con rajas, with grilled poblano peppers, caramelized onions, sautéed huitlacoche, crema, Chihuahua cheese and twice-fried fingerling potatoes dressed with raw tomatillo salsa in fresh corn tortillas. They’re now my favorite, too. The sopes, made with masa and wood-fire grilled corn, are a standout. The crispy sopes are filled with barbacoa made from slow-cooked beef cheeks, which is braised inside grilled banana leaves. They are served with a cilantro and epazote-crusted marrowbone, so you can scoop out the marrow and add it to the sopes with the accompanying pickled onions. Yum! And the crust was flaky perfection.
The Brussels sprouts with adobo spice-rubbed roasted pumpkin, pomegranate seeds, Cotija cheese, serrano chiles and a grilled jalapeño vinaigrette exceeded expectations. It’s a happening place and good for larger parties.