If you’re a Jamaica Plain resident, chances are you’ve been waiting to hear this news for months: Casa Verde officially opens its doors next week. The taqueria from Keith Harmon, David Doyle, and Mari Perez-Alers, the folks who brought you Tres Gatos and Centre Street Café, has been in the works for more than a year, and Harmon says the neighborhood has been ready for weeks.
“Literally when we open the front door to just run across the street to the hardware store, we call it the ‘Zombie Taco Apocalypse,’ because as soon as we get out there we’re wading through crowds of people saying, ‘When are you opening?'” he says, laughing.
Construction took longer than anticipated, as is the refrain of many Boston-area restaurateurs. The biggest change to the 58-seat space, the former Indian restaurant Ghazal, is a larger bar, in a new location. The Casa Verde team relocated the bar to the right side of the narrow room, and it seats 12, Harmon says. But other interior work was “more about tearing down than building up,” he says. There was original, decorative beadboard and brickwork underneath drywall they removed. Some of the beadboard was taken down and planed off, and it now adorns the new bar in a chevron pattern.
“A big part of this place will be a bar personality,” Harmon says. It’ll be the team’s first restaurant with a TV, for example.
Bailey Lyon, recently the general manager of Tres Gatos, has taken on that role at Casa Verde and is also spearheading the new beer program. Twenty draft lines will rotate through local brews, like the double IPA Hobbit Juice, a hotly anticipated new arrival from Beer’d Brewing in Connecticut, a new pale ale from Portico called Escher, and Downeast Cider, plus national craft brands. Pacifico is the spot’s token Mexican import. There is also a curated collection of about 15 bottles and cans, plus a streamlined menu of wines by the bottle and glass.
Casa Verde has a cordials license for now, so expect micheladas and other beer cocktails, plus a “cool little list of margaritas,” starring a tequila-style liqueur and fresh-squeezed juices, Harmon says.
Sean Callahan, formerly executive chef at Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain and a longtime friend of Tres Gatos, is at the helm in the kitchen. On Mi Niña tortillas crafted locally every day, Casa Verde will offer 10 tacos, including vertically spit-roasted lamb al pastor with charred pineapple, and chipotle-roasted cauliflower. The menu, shared below (though it’s subject to tweaks before official opening day), is rounded out with snacks like house-fried tortilla chips and Callahan’s salsas, South American ceviches, tortas on house-baked bolillo, large plates, like slow-roasted chicken with mole sauce, and cheese and chard enchiladas, and a bruléed plantain sundae.
Opening a Mexican concept has been a goal for Harmon and Doyle for years, Harmon says. He used to live in Los Angeles, and Doyle visits family in Puebla, Mexico, regularly. “Anyone who’s ever lived in Los Angeles, or Austin, or many places in the Southwest, [knows] there is a different style of Mexican food happening there that is delicious, that’s based on fresh preparations,” Harmon says. “We had a roadmap all those years ago of what we would want to do. We’ve ended up doing our three favorite cuisines.”
Casa Verde, grand opening early May at 711 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, Boston, Facebook.
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