Consuelo Alvarado is not a restaurateur, nor a chef. Professionally, she’s in it for construction management. But for too long she’s watched meals become mechanical — calories are counted and the culture is lost. Her desire to change this, guided by a wholesome culinary upbringing, led her to launch Tabachines Cocina in June.
One month in to her first restaurant venture, she remains focused on her goal to infuse culture back into the dining experience. Her tools? “Beauty, passion, and community” she says. Mrs. Alvarado is joined by Head Chef Patricia Zarate, who has spent years reviving the Downtown community through culinary training with Homeboy Industries. “Community is how culture, life, and food manifests,” the two write in their in their menu’s first-page prelude. “It is where purpose resides.” And community is everywhere at Tabachines — particularly in the design of the newly renovated space. A central dining table has seating for eight people: a group of old friends, or a group of 8 new ones. Tabachines Menu is as diverse as the Downtown community it feeds. The various entrees cater to vegans, vegetarians, celiacs, and even those that crave a little extra Mexican spice. Taste, flavor, and quality however, is consistent across the board.
On the menu is the food that both women grew up with. Mole was a staple of Mrs. Alavarado’s home in Guadalajara, at Tabachines it’s served with chicken or pork. The meat is cooked in its own juices, and decorated with habanero pickled onions and “plated” in a spread of mole sauce. The sauce is complex, combining peppers, nuts, and over 40 other ingredients. The plate is finished with green rice and banana slices for sweetness. The sea bass sells out often at Tabachines; it’s a Mexican take on a traditional fish. Pan seared and garnished with house-made salsa, it’s served with warm tortillas and delicious roasted cheesy corn.
In mid-July, Mrs. Alvarado began yet another push to bring the diverse Downtown community together: through lunch. Comida Corrida is a special prix fixe menu that’s served at Tabachines Monday through Friday, though its origins are working class diners of Mexico. It’s perfect for old friends reminiscing for hours, or a Financial District businessman who’s only got 30 minutes. Though the menu changes daily, $16 guarantees you a salad, soup, protein, and dessert. As Mrs. Alvarado puts it, “I’m sharing my lunch with the community — the lunch I grew up eating.”