It's not difficult to find Mexican food in Seattle, but a casual after-hours hangout that has Frito pie and "totchos" on the menu is another story.
Rachel Marshall (pictured right) and Kate Opatz (left) have been working diligently on opening their newest project, Nacho Borracho, near the corner of Olive and Broadway (209 Broadway E). The two friends already own Montana at the other end of the Broadway spectrum, and Marshall is busy with Rachel's Ginger Beer, not to mention a newborn. Yesterday, the new mom found time to sit down and chat with me about this new gig she's anxious to get going. Here are 10 things you need to know about Nacho Borracho, which, if all things go according to plan (because they always do), could open at some point today:
1.) There is a strong Lark connection.
“Our friend David Gurewitz is doing the menu. He was a sous chef at Lark when Kate and I worked at Lark. He’s incredible. He’s at Little Uncle now because [owner] Wiley [Frank] was a sous chef at Lark as well. We want to have food, but we don’t want to fuck with food. So, we hired David to consult and put the menu together and hire the kitchen.“
2.) Marshall is most excited about the cocktails.
"Because that’s my department and I’ve kind of agonized over them for months. I want them to be a really nice cross-section and to not be the same as Montana or RGB Market. I’m excited to do something with food, too, which is a little scary because we’re not food people and both of us have worked in restaurants collectively for like 35 years.” In addition to Lark, Oddfellows and Delancey round out Marshall’s Seattle restaurant experience.
3.) There will be both frozen cocktails and cocktails on tap.
Frozen drinks include a creamy, over-the-top avocado margarita, a “Vitamin T” with fresh squeezed oranges, passion fruit, tequila, lime, and almond, and a frozen Moscow Mule with pink guava. On tap: a Moscow Mule and an El Diablo (tequila, cassis, ginger beer). There will also be a classic margarita and some sort of strong cocktail, like a Negroni. Plus, lots of cheap Mexican beer and Nacho’s answer to Montana’s pickleback (shot of whiskey, spicy pickle juice chaser), the Sangrita: “It’s a really cool combo of pomegranate, mint and blood orange and chilies and vinegar and dill. So you get that sweet and sour and spicy — it’s so good.”
4.) The food menu sounds just as fun.
“We’re doing house-made flautas and a really beautiful taco salad, queso (no processed cheese) — like a poblano chili queso and a chorizo queso — and nachos, and Frito pie, and a Sonoran hot dog.”
5.) A Sonoran hot dog is your hangover’s new best friend.
“It’s a huge deal in Arizona, which is where Kate’s mom is from. It’s a bacon-wrapped hot dog that’s in kind of like a torta roll, so it has more substance than a hot dog bun, with beans, onions, tomatoes and cheese. It’s street food. It’s awesome.”
6.) There was going to be a tortilla chip bar.
“Kate’s an artist, which is great — that’s what makes her a great partner. She was doing the bar top (16 seats). She was taking tortilla chips and putting them upside down, all the way down…the entire bar was tortilla chips. And we poured resin on it, so it was going to be a tortilla chip bar, which I couldn’t understand — my brain’s a little bit linear — and it was so rad. But when the resin got poured, it didn’t get cured properly because the resin just got dumped and it burned up the bar. The place was not on fire by any means, but there was chemical burning and we had to turn on the hood to get the fumes out. So the bar had to be ripped out and redone.
7.) Fire is a common theme among the pair's businesses.
"When we were building Montana — we had no money for Montana — Brandon [Pettit] from Delancey had this great idea that I could blow torch the walls to give them this distressed, burnt look. So, I blow torched the wall one night and then I heard all these sirens coming. I thought, 'Oh, somebody has a cooking fire,' and the fire department came storming in while I’m blow torching. I was caught red-handed with a blow torch. There was a silent alarm that I triggered. Who knew? Kate said, 'Ah, this is the equivalent of our blowtorch at Montana!'"
8.) The ladies are taking a gamble on Broadway.
"Montana kind of works for the people who live west of Broadway, all the people who live in that Summit Slope neighborhood — we really see the same faces four nights a week. It’s people who can stumble home. We’re hoping we’ll get that Broadway to 15th residents crowd at Nacho. And then all of our industry friends. That’s the big reason we want to do food until so late, because we all work ‘til late and there’s nowhere to go besides Hot Mama’s and Big Mario’s for food.”
9.) Nacho Borracho will be serving food daily until 2 a.m.
“We enter food with a lot of trepidation because the margins are important. Especially when you compare them to liquor margins, which are incredible. People can really lose a ton of money and close their business because their food costs get out of hand. And food labor. So, we’re having a really tight, eight-item menu. That right there makes it so we can keep the kitchen open late. It’s just a nice, small menu that if things quiet down, one person can execute.”
10.) Broadway is getting cool again.
“That new bar Witness has gotten a lot of attention. Travis (Rosenthal) from Tango and Rumba took over the Panevino space. Bait Shop is great. And then the light rail station going in. I think there just needs to be a handful more cool places on Broadway. There are already some great restaurants — Poppy and Altura are amazing.”
“I think Broadway is going to keep getting cooler. It has to get cooler! The architecture is so cool, there are great buildings up and down Broadway, the lights on Broadway are awesome. If you’re driving on Broadway at night, you’ll notice there’s so much neon and so much warm light.”
11.) BONUS: Here’s the menu: