Dinner at Tacoma’s Gateway to India led Seattle restaurant owner Kittie Davidovich to wonder about the nearby vacant restaurant space that formerly held Marrow at 2717 Sixth Ave.
Her thoughts, “This is a corner space, a former restaurant, for lease? It’s so rare to find.”
Her Tacoma visit was during a road trip to Mount Rainier on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She was on the verge of signing a lease to open a third taqueria-style Mexican restaurant and bar in South Lake Union. But she saw the Marrow space, which has been vacant since August. She ditched plans for the Seattle expansion and pursued Tacoma instead.
Consider Davidovich as one more Seattle restaurant lured by Tacoma’s attractive lease rates (at least compared to Seattle’s) and the prospect of lower labor costs. Since last year, eight Seattle-based restaurant groups have opened or announced plans to open a restaurant in Tacoma.
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“I’ve been to Tacoma four to five times a week the last five weeks just to get to know it and get under Tacoma’s skin to see if we will fit in,” said Davidovich. “Sixth Avenue is definitely our vibe. That’s our energy. It’s quirky/edgy. The waterfront is beautiful. I’m astounded by how beautiful the architecture is in Tacoma. … Tacoma reminds me a lot of what Seattle used to be.”
She was a bartender at Pike Place Market institution Lowell’s for a decade before opening her first restaurant (since closed). She opened El Borracho in the Pike Place Market in 2012 and El Borracho in Ballard in 2014.
Davidovich and her partner Adam Pomerleau, the restaurant’s executive chef, plan to open El Borracho Tacoma this summer.
They’ll shift the decor to not replicate, but complement, their Seattle restaurants, which are outfitted in rich tones and Mexican folk art.
She and Pomerleau plan to duplicate the menu, which Davidovich described as “basically a taco truck with a bar.”
The menu features more than 20 kinds of a la carte tacos built on handmade corn tortillas, plus Mission-style burritos, pozole, quesadillas and nachos. Side dishes include black or refried beans, rice and the typical taqueria trimmings. Burritos hover around $10-$13, with tacos in the $3-$5 range.
They’re known for their dollar tacos and other steep discounts at happy hour. As with the other locations, El Borracho Tacoma will have $4 “El Cheapo” margaritas as an anytime deal.
Here’s hopeful news for vegans and vegetarians who were dismayed when vegetarian-friendly Marrow closed. El Borracho offers a thoughtful vegan menu with tacos, burritos, nachos and a number of vegetarian-themed tacos and burritos, said Davidovich, who is a 25-year vegan. (Tip: Nearby Red Hot on Sixth Avenue has an outstanding vegan menu).
Pomerleau is the meat eater, she said, and responsible for the menu of tacos featuring everything from coke-braised carnitas tacos to shredded rabbit, beef cheeks confit, beef tongue, chile-rubbed goat, duck carnitas, shredded chicken or chorizo tacos.
The bar will stay open until 2 a.m., and the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner daily. This is a second Seattle Mexican restaurant to announce its expansion to Tacoma. Casco Antiguo will open a Tacoma restaurant this year
El Borracho Tacoma
Where: 2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma.
Opening: Expected this summer.