Is anyone else getting dizzy trying to follow the blitz of restaurant openings?
In our roundup of places to watch for in the final few months of the year, we brought you news that Kittie Davidovich, owner of Pike Place Market’s El Borracho (not to be confused with soon-to-open Nacho Borracho), was expanding her taqueria business into the old Field House location at 5465 Leary Way NW in Ballard. While that restaurant is not quite open—Davidovich is still aiming for a 2013 opening—she’s since surprised everyone by transforming her other restaurant, New Orleans-themed Le Bon Ton Roulé at 4332 Leary Way NW between Fremont and Ballard, into a Mexican eatery as well.
Last week, Le Bon Ton Roulé closed for just four days, reemerging on Saturday, December 7, as El Borracho Del Norte, a full-service, 21-and-older restaurant and bar serving the same specialty tacos and Mission-style burritos that diners can get at the market location, plus a wider range of plated meals and shareable bar food items like nachos and taquitos. Since Davidovich is vegan, there’s also an impressive portion of the menu dedicated to meatless dining. Hurricanes are out and margaritas are in—both suitable for the location’s expansive, west-facing patio (come summer, anyway).
“I do love New Orleans, and it’ll always have a very special place in my heart,” Davidovich says. “We had a really loyal fan base, albeit a small one—not big enough to sustain a restaurant.”
To soothe the saddened regulars, Davidovich has kept a couple of the most popular menu items: an Andouille-and-crab mac ‘n’ cheese, and a sugar-rimmed cocktail called Purple Drank that involves grape-flavored vodka, Pucker, and Kool-Aid.
With Del Norte, Davidovich is hoping to appeal to a broader audience and save overhead costs on importing the expensive ingredients required in NOLA-style cooking. Plus, she says, “Everyone loves a Mexican restaurant, right?”
By the end of the year, Davidovich will be putting that mantra to the test even further, as El Borracho’s Ballard taqueria is shooting for an imminent opening. She said the owners of the building had turned down multiple proposals, saying they didn’t want a restaurant or bar in the space, when she approached them. But one visit to her Pike Place Market stand, and they were sold.
The Ballard location of El Borracho will continue in the vein of being a bar first and a restaurant second, stocking house-infused tequilas for margaritas—the pineapple-and-serrano-pepper version is a top seller in Pike Place, Davidovich says—and a combination of local and imported beers. Where Del Norte closes at 10 or 11 depending on the day, Ballard will stay open until at least midnight, and she’s contemplating a 2 a.m. closing time on weekends to accommodate the busy bar culture in the neighborhood. Del Norte is now only serving dinner, though lunch service is planned for the spring. El Borracho Ballard will open for lunch daily.