Elvis is in the house—Chef Elvis Bencomo, that is. With co-owners Monica (Elvis’ wife) and Orlando (his brother), Pasión Latin Fusion serves up dishes found throughout Latin America with Elvis’ own creative flair. The chef has followed his love of cooking through culinary school at CNM, where an assignment turned his life around—fast. In April, his class was told to create a restaurant complete with a menu. Shortly thereafter, the building at Lomas became available. Pasión opened its doors just one month ago.
Monica runs the front of the house and her gracious, lively style makes you feel right at home. Some foodie friends were in from Chicago, so I invited them along to check the place out with me. We ate fish tacos crusted in banana, garnished with pickled onions, avocado and sauce. The succulent carnitas tacos and George’s pescado à la Veracruzana were spectacular.
The “croque señorita” is Elvis’ version of a croque-madame—a seared pork chop, fried egg and Swiss cheese served over tacu tacu (Peruvian rice and beans, similar to Cuba's moros y cristianos) with a huacatay cream sauce (Peruvian mint). I plan to go back and try the whole amazing menu.
If you’re reading this column, you could be sitting at the new P’tit Louis Bistro in Nob Hill. Set to open as this edition of the Alibi hits the streets, the second location is a collaboration between Christophe Descarpentries, John Phinizy and a new partner: Tom White of Il Vicino and Two Fools Tavern.
Descarpentries, Phinizy and crew have been hard at work for the five months doing carpentry, custom decor, tile and a new kitchen installation. Staff were cross-trained for much of that time to offer the same excellent service that diners have come to expect Downtown. Descarpentries has a knack for building Paris from scratch. The restaurant on Gold transports you to Paris of the ’20s. P’tit Louis on Silver more resembles a stop along the outskirts, a perfect village bistro at the turn of the century.
The menu welcomes diners to many of the Downtown bistro’s popular dishes, but there are some new choices as well. Descarpentries will continue the practice of daily specials. Nob Hill diners will have the added pleasure of dinner hours Thursday through Saturday and, when weather permits, alfresco dining on the patio. Special private seatings are still available on other evenings.
After a long history in Corrales, fires and resurrection at the Village Shops of Los Ranchos, the Calico Café closed this spring. Contractor Michael Baird, owner of Village Shops, tells me that the Calico family was ready to retire. Rather then take in new tenants, Baird decided to take over the restaurants himself.
Village Shops is also home to Vernon’s, the jazz-filled steakhouse founded by the Calico Café family. Baird built on the strength of Vernon’s popularity. He used a portion of the Calico space for Prime, a gourmet sandwich shop that will eventually include a wine boutique. The decor is both rustic and contemporary. On the menu, the focus is meat—especially prime beef. You can buy New Mexico grass-fed steaks by the pound to grill at home, or have lunch and a beer on the spacious patio.