I love the downtown La Bodega for all the things it embodies that no other restaurant can offer.
I love the high energy that maintains a constant buzz, even during the week. I love the location because it’s convenient to get to from all areas of downtown. I love that it has remained true to itself over time.
And finally, I love tapas.
A few weeks back, I found myself driving out to the new La Bodega location out south, wondering if there would be enough love to stretch to the far reaches of 119th Street. Owner James Taylor didn’t just replace the old JP’s Wine Bar sign and call it a day. He took over the space.
He transferred much of his well trained staff from the recently closed re:Verse on the Plaza. He also brought the artist Stretch back into the mix. Stretch had lent his original and dynamic sensibilities to Taylor’s other successful properties and has done his magic in the 119th space as well. Outdoor fireplaces and familiar dancing figures on the interior wall manage to give the new La Bodega a touch of urban flair that acts as a crowning detail.
On the pre-opening night, Mojitos and Sangrias flowed. Marinated olives, bacon wrapped dates and creamy garlic meatballs emerged from the open concept kitchen. The energy was high among patrons and servers. This energy will be a huge shot in the arm for a strip mall that still seems to be trying to find a footing. This being a suburban location, the layout will work particularly well for La Bodega. There is a private glass-enclosed room for special occasions, a large outdoor patio and a bar so generous, it can act as additional dinner seating during heavy traffic weekends.
The interior is more polished then its original counterpart.
But in losing some of that raw downtown authenticity, La Bodega is gaining a new group of fans and Taylor is moving forward on his strengths – serving fun food with a twist and keeping the crowd around with great drinks and that sexy atmosphere.