UPDATE 8/21: There’s been a delay in opening. The restaurant expects to open later in the week. I’ll post an update when I get a firm opening date.
El Borracho, the Seattle bar and taco haven, will open its third location Aug. 21 in Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue neighborhood.
You’d be correct if you wondered, “hasn’t a Seattle taco place already duplicated down here?” Chow Foods opened Brewers Row, a taqueria, in the Proctor neighborhood in 2016. Seattle’s Casco Antiguo duplicated itself in May in Tacoma on the Foss Waterway.
And now there’s El Borracho, which was founded by partners-in-business-and-life Kittie Davidovich and Adam Pomerleau. They opened the first in 2012 in the Pike Place Market. The second followed in Ballard in 2014.
The menu reflects the diet of each restaurateur. Pomerleau is the executive chef with an adventurous palate and penchant for meats not often found at taquerias around here, including goat, rabbit, lamb and duck. Davidovich is a vegan, which is why a good chunk of the real estate on the menu is devoted to vegan tacos, burritos and more.
How fitting that a restaurant that caters to both meat lovers and vegans would open in the space that formerly was home to Marrow, a restaurant with the same clash of catering to vegans and meat eaters. That restaurant closed in 2016.
Davidovich uses a simple description to telegraph El Borracho’s concept, “basically a taco bus with a bar,” she said. The bar is known for its $4 tap margarita, the El Cheapo, served at that price during all operating hours. There’s also a respectable one-page list of tequilas and mezcals, as well as a specialty cocktail menu featuring, of course, tequila. (That is all apropos considering the restaurant’s name translates to The Drunkard.)
The bulk of the menu at the Seattle locations covers about 20 different kinds of tacos, and Tacoma will be no different.
Seattle taco prices range from $3.08 to $4.36 and are served a la carte. They feature rabbit, lamb, duck and goat, as well as beef cheeks, carnitas, chicken, barbacoa, al pastor, shrimp and cod. Vegan tacos include mushrooms with ancho chile paste, pico de gallo and what the restaurant calls its “fake sour cream.” There’s also meatless chorizo or potato-poblano vegan tacos.
Each of the tacos can be turned into a burrito ($9.23 to $12.30). The Seattle menu also includes taco accessories such as nachos ($10.25), pozole ($5.33/$8.41), enchiladas ($12.30) and quesadillas ($10.25).
The duo almost opened their third location in South Lake Union, but a chance dinner in Tacoma changed all that. Davidovich said she stopped in the Sixth Avenue neighborhood for dinner at Gateway to India. She spied the empty Marrow space and was intrigued. She soon signed a lease.
There are a few things to know about the Tacoma location. It’s open only to diners 21 and older. El Borracho will open daily at 11 a.m. and serve lunch, dinner and late-night dining.
The restaurant also is known for its handmade corn tortillas, which are chewy, thick discs that yield a pleasing pull. The sturdy tortillas come piled high with taco toppings, making them bigger than your average taqueria taco. Two make a decent meal, three is a feast.
The decor will emulate the Seattle locations, which feature folk art and colorful tile work.
“It’s like an outdoor courtyard. There’s window boxes and planters and tile,” Davidovich said about the Tacoma location’s decor.
Davidovich said the footprint shifted a bit with the seating, but the bar is in the same place it was at Marrow.
The official opening is 4 p.m. Aug. 21, but an invitation-only soft opening will happen the weekend before.
El Borracho Tacoma
Where: 2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. Happy hour is 4-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Late-night happy hour 11 p.m.-1 a.m. daily.
Note: 21 and older only
Opening date: 4 p.m. Aug. 21.