Things are coming together at Nacho Borracho, the new late-night hangout from Kate Opatz and Rachel Marshall (not to be confused with El Borracho, which has a third location also opening soon). Tortilla chips are being locked in resin to top the newly constructed bar. Finishing touches—pomegranate in the sangrita, or cilantro in the margaritas?—are being added to the cocktails. Soon, the paper on the windows comes down.
The duo behind Montana have taken their tried-and-true recipe for unapologetic neighborhood dive bar and given it a Mexican makeover in the former Ooba Tooba space at 209 Broadway E. Opatz says they’ve been throwing around two themed bar ideas—and promises we’ll be seeing the other one at some point, too—for some time, and “this space just seemed to make sense for this concept.” The menu will feature a variety of Americanized Mexican comfort/bar food—flautas, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, chicken wings, and the like—but surely folks will go for the huge plates of nachos, of which there will be plenty.
Nacho should be open by next Wednesday, February 12, but per usual, these things can change. Hours are scheduled for Monday through Friday 3pm to 2am, and Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 2am (allowing for brunchy dishes like chilaquiles and egg-topped nachos). Happy hour will run daily 3 to 6.
Judging from the enthusiastic inquisitions Opatz gets just walking around her neighborhood—she lives just up the street—Capitol Hill is already plenty excited about Nacho opening. Here are a few reasons you should be, too:
There will be frozen drinks. Nacho has three slushie machines and four taps for cocktails, so you’ll always be able to get frozen strawberry Moscow Mules, El Diablos, classic margaritas, and a rotating assortment of other drinks, like a serrano-pineapple margarita or a Chihuahua, with tequila and grapefruit. But the big draw will be the avocado margaritas, introduced to Opatz originally by a friend during a summer rooftop party, when she fell in love with avocado’s “mild flavor and great creaminess.”
But you don’t have to order one. Look, we get you may be too cool for blended drinks. We’re not, but you may be. Arguably Montana’s most popular order is the pickleback—a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle brine—and Nacho’s incarnation will involve a swig of tequila and a citrusy, peppery shooter of sangrita.
Homemade cheese sauce. Enough said. Opatz and Marshall enlisted Little Uncle’s David Gurewitz, who they know from their days at Lark, to put together the menu—a menu that Opatz says involves magic queso made by Velveeta-ing (that's a verb, right?) cheese with baking soda and citric acid. Generally they'll be using cheddar, but the process allows them the freedom to make cheese sauce out of any variety, really. Though she points out that they’re not aiming for authenticity by any means, she says a friend is jokingly calling the food Wa-Mex, for the sort of hyper local, homemade take on Americanized Mexican food they’ll be serving. “It’s definitely a little bit more than opening a can of cheese,” Opatz adds. A lot more, as far as we can tell: she talks about specials that may include inventive twists like buffalo wing nachos with blue cheese sauce.
Broadway residents get their own Cheers. Opatz loves that Montana regulars are there three or four times per week, and she and Marshall are hoping the same will be true for the folks who make Nacho their home away from home. “Our wait staff will be really nice, really friendly,” Opatz says. “It sounds really silly for that to be part of your business plan, like it should be assumed, but it’s just not at all places.” She calls them “pros, but not snobs.” Plus, if the regulars are well known, they’re also held accountable—read: they won’t get drunk and embarrass themselves quite so readily.
There's one coveted booth big enough for parties. The kitchen is long and lean, and Opatz says they actually sectioned off a back portion they didn’t need to make room for a 10- to 12-seat private—“a little too private,” she says (wink, wink)—booth that will be a sort of VIP space reservable for groups. Now, if only Washington state liquor laws would permit the sales of margarita pitchers.