And yet everything I had heard about and all the pictures I had seen of Bone Garden Cantina made me think, “Well, there’s a moderately appealing restaurant. I’ll wait until I’m in the neighborhood.”
Why? Because I get my Mexican Mex fix at modest taquerias in Chamblee or Forest Park, and I get my Gringo Mex fix at Taqueria del Sol.
This place, from one of the owners of the Vortex burger bars, sounded like neither. I feared bastardized Mexican dishes, but no greasy, cheesy nurstiness to knock back with a margarita. Plus, I remember the former tenant, Ambra, as being a lonely, sad cafe. Set in the remote corner of the Lumber Yard complex on the west side, this is a restaurant you really have to want to find.
And what an awesomely fun menu. Just about everything is à la carte, so you can easily put together a meal from the list of tamales, enchiladas, sopes, sides, salads and nearly two dozen soft corn tacos.
Here’s my lunch (above): a crisp masa sope (shaped like a little ashtray, with sides) smeared with black beans and topped with shredded pork, cabbage and tomatillo salsa ($3.95); a betabel salad with beets, spinach, orange and queso fresco crumbles in a bright vinagrette ($3); and elote — an ear of grilled corn with slathered with mayo and rolled in cojita cheese and red chile ($3).
I’d say these dishes were more solid than great. The sope shell was too leathery, the corn too mushy and shy on flavor from cooking and reheating. But the flavors had more than moderate appeal, for sure.
But the format of this menu? Loved it. I can’t wait to go back and try more items until I find the one taco/one side $6 combo that will surely become my go-to get-out-of-the-office lunch.
So glad I was in the neighborhood today.