We'd heard that a new Mexican restaurant was being planned for North Chuck, and we got excited. Then we heard that John Marshall, the former owner and chef of Al di La, was involved in the project and that really got us pumped. The well-regarded and much loved Marshall sold his West Ashley restaurant to right-hand-man Marc Kohn several years ago and beat it out of town, headed to North Carolina to start a farm and perhaps a new restaurant. We hadn't heard much from him in the intervening years, but he recently popped back up on our foodie radar.
An all-too-brief e-mail exchange recently garnered some information about his new venture Zocalo. The restaurant is going into an old gas station, which most recently housed Duke's Garden Center at 1049 E. Montague in the heart of Park Circle. The interior will have a 20-seat bar in addition to 40 seats inside and a huge outdoor patio with seating under a pergola.
The menu will specialize in Mexican street food with regionally authentic tacos. Marshall says they will have a vertical spit for cooking al pastor, and they'll serve a Sonoran Hot Dog (a dog traditionally wrapped in bacon and piled with toppings like beans, grilled onions, fresh onions, tomatoes, mayo, cream sauce, mustard, and jalapeño salsa) and paper cones of chili-spiced chicharrónes (fried pork rinds).
Marshall and his business partners Robert Holzel and Richard Harris (who will serve as general manager) have tapped Cameron Caruso from Fleet Landing to run the bar. They'll be focusing on traditional handcrafted cocktails with fresh ingredients, lots of tequila, mezcal, and American whiskey. Expect a complete selection of cold Mexican beer too.
Not sure when we can expect to see Zocalo open, but we'll keep you posted.