Bone Garden CantinaJessica | March 23, 2011
I looked at some fellow bloggers’ posts on this place from 2-3 years ago before I started writing and saw a few hits, but a lot of misses. However, on our recent visit to Bone Garden Cantina the restaurant seemed to have made it past its “awkward stage” and come into it’s own. Located in a mostly industrial area off Marietta Blvd. (on Ellsworth Industrial, fittingly), you could easily miss Bone Garden’s warehouse-like digs…or you could just keep an eye out for the giant skeleton out front. The restaurant markets itself as one of the only authentic Mexican restaurants in town (i.e. not Americanized and drowning in cheese) and touts its fresh, made from scratch dishes.
We started with our free basket of warm chips & salsa, which we both enjoyed. Both elements tasted very fresh and we kept snacking on them throughout the meal.
For entrees, Mario, who before now could not be convinced that there was any better “Mexican” food than Taqueria del Sol’s fried chicken tacos, decided to step outside his comfort zone and try the camarones, or shrimp enchiladas (garlic-sauteed shrimp topped with salsa de tomate, melted cheese, and sour cream). I also ordered something a little different, the stuffed pambazo torta, a Mexican sandwich (Mexican telera bread tossed in Adobo sauce, grilled and stuffed with a mix of chorizo, potatoes, chipotle pepper, and onion, topped with sour cream, lettuce, avocado, and Chihuahua cheese) + a side of esquite (grilled corn topped with mayonnaise, chili powder, queso fresco, and limes):
You read that right, corn topped with mayo. Sounds crazy, but this side dish was so. good. I found myself awake at 2am two days later…thinking about this corn! The mayo and chili powder gave the corn a creamy, spicy kick that was nicely set off by the acidity of the lime juice. Yum! I imagine the “on the cob” version (Elote) might be even better, but I haven’t yet discovered how to eat corn on the cob gracefully and try to avoid doing so in public settings.
I had to take a detour there to talk about that esquite, but now we can get to the main dishes. Mario really enjoyed his shrimp enchiladas. He found they didn’t skimp on the shrimp and loved the garlic flavor. I think I may have caught him running his finger around the plate trying to pick up the last smears of sauce. My stuffed pambazo was a spicy, greasy mess–in the best possible way. The generous portion of chorizo and spicy potatoes made this sandwich very hearty–in fact, I only ate half. I didn’t so much like the adobo flavor on the bread, as the smokiness was a little overwhelming in conjunction with the chorizo. The bread was also a little too soft to neatly contain all the sandwich fillings.
I convinced some girlfriends to return with me to Bone Garden just shy of a week later, when I tried the famous Lengua (beef tongue) taco. The beef tongue was super tender and I loved the contrast with the crunchy radish topping and tangy salsa verde. My friends also inhaled their taco and quesadilla orders, so I guess that makes Bone Garden a winner.
I also tried a few tequila-based drinks on my visits, including the mango hot chile margarita (habanero-infused tequila, orange liqueur, sweet & sour, a dash of hot sauce, and real mango) and the Slinger, which I can’t find a description of, but contained tequila of course and some smashed fresh berries, among other things. LOVED the Slinger. It was small, and therefore packed a small-ish punch, but it was very fresh tasting and not overly sweet. The hot chile margarita was more substantial, and happily, the mango was used more as an accent to the tequila than in trying to make the margarita sickly sweet.
Bone Garden Cantina is run by the same folks that own The Vortex, and you can see the resemblances to its burger-centric sister in the “house rules” and skeletal Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) decor. This place is set to become one of my new favorites, and if you haven’t visited, I encourage you to do so NOW!