Hungry for a “quesillo-laden pupusa” that jacks directly into your brain’s pleasure center? Or perhaps your dining companion is more in the mood for grilled yakitori caramelized with a ginger-citrus soy glaze? If you can’t decide (or agree) where to go for dinner tonight, consider Booty’s Street Food. Here in Bywater you’ll find a beggar’s banquet of global noshes stitched together by the premise of “Street Foods from Around the World.” The brainchild of owners Nick Vivion and Kevin Farrell, Booty’s successfully strikes a careful balance. A concept that could be gimmicky in the wrong – or, God forbid, corporate – hands is authentically executed here. Their success stems in part from Vivion’s experience as a travel writer and videographer as well as the capabilities of executive chef Greg Fonseca, who formerly served as chef de cuisine at Rio Mar – a restaurant that knows a thing or two about international small plate cuisine.
“When Nick came to me it was like the clouds parting – this was exactly the kind of stuff I was looking to do,” Fonseca recalls. He sold them on his tryout dish of som tam – a Thai dish of green mango salad and grilled shrimp. And while Vivion is a peripatetic writer who has lived in Missouri and Switzerland, with other stops along the way, Fonseca is a local guy who grew up in the kitchen and back rooms of Antoine’s, where his father worked as the beverage manager. The global-local connection is helped by this synergy.
The menu is organized around dishes that can be eaten from a cone, with your hands or off a skewer. Papadum from India sits side-by-side with Peruvian ceviche. Fonseca has a deft hand with the ceviche and gazpacho, which were calling cards at Rio Mar as well. “Dishes like this lend themselves well to summer,” he explains. In June he was running a coconut ceviche with puppy drum and habanero, but his creations shift with availability. For July, look for creations featuring Creole tomatoes and watermelon.
The contemporary space is hip without feeling pretentious, with gleaming pressed tin ceilings and a polished cement floor softened by reclaimed wood and banquette seating. They have a creative cocktail menu and feature excellent Stumptown coffee. All the dishes ring up under $10 but the temptation is to over-order. Pace yourself to avoid tapas-style sticker shock. Either way, it’s far more economical than an open-jaw plane ticket or Eurorail Pass, and the closest you’ll come to jet lag are the after-effects from their adult snowballs.