New Places; Familiar Spaces
Horn’s, Araña Taqueria Y Cantina and Ale
I had a history with La Peniche that went back to the mid-1980s. In my memory it was a place that served pretty good food very late. My friends and I would roll in around 2 a.m., and it felt like a sophisticated alternative compared to the chains we’d otherwise have visited. I hadn’t been to La Peniche in 15 years, nor thought about it for that matter, so I was happy to learn earlier this year that the same folks behind Slim Goodies were taking over the space at 1940 Dauphine St.
The menu at Horn’s will be familiar to anyone who’s visited Slim Goodies, at least where breakfast is concerned. Chef Greg Fonseca, who was previously at Booty’s Street Food, runs the kitchen. His lunch and dinner menus are full of local standards like trout almandine, barbecue shrimp, Natchitoches-style meat pies and an Italian salad.
Horn’s is closed on Wednesday, but opens at 7 a.m. the rest of the week. On Tuesday they close at 2 p.m., and on Sunday and Monday they stay open until 10. Thursday through Saturday they stay open until 11 p.m., though you should call 459-4676 to be certain because there are plans to extend the closing.
Araña Taqueria Y Cantina
Araña Taqueria Y Cantina opened in August at 3242 Magazine St. It is another in the growing list of local restaurants serving the sort of Mexican food that goes beyond border cuisine and explores foods that were being prepared by indigenous peoples long before European contact. As I write, the menu isn’t entirely complete, but I’m looking forward to trying the braised lamb loin chips in a red mole and tacos with fillings such as carne asada, beef tongue in charred tomato broth and ancho-marinated duck with pickled red onion and poblano chiles. There are a few nods to less ambitious palates – the “el gringo” tacos combine ground beef with tomatoes, lettuce and queso fresco, and I can’t imagine anyone turning down fresh pico de gallo and chips.
Chef Richard Papier is also serving tortas, a Mexican sandwich stuffed with a variety of meat options, black bean purée, tomato, avocado and crema (think really good sour cream).
Papier has worked with some pretty big names locally including Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link, Susan Spicer and Nathaniel Zimet, but perhaps his biggest influence is chef Guillermo Peters, whose now-closed restaurant Taqueros/Coyoacan was ahead of its time.
Araña is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Call 894-1233 for more information.
Oak opened a few years ago as an upscale wine bar and music location with a menu of small plates created by local chef Aaron Burgau of Patois. In July the folks behind Oak opened Ale, which is adjacent to and now shares a patio with Oak. Per the name, Ale is more focused on beer, and initial reports described it as more “manly” than its neighbor. I don’t know that the multiple craft beers and single-malt whiskies available at Ale are inherently more masculine than wine and live music, but I suppose the darker wood and multiple televisions can give that impression. For anyone confused by the apparent dichotomy, that patio space mentioned above allows you to order from either kitchen.
I very much liked the food at Oak when I last visited, which is now made by chef Stew Freeman, and the menu at Ale (courtesy of chef Mike Ball – both kitchens managed by Via Fortier) looks to be similarly ambitious. Snacks include housemade bratwurst, soft pretzels with beer-cheese fondue and chicken wings in two varieties: spicy lemongrass and smoked-fried.
Larger plates range from lamb sliders with mint chimichurri and aioli and Mexican coke-braised brisket with slaw and milk buns from Dong Phuong bakery.
Ale is located at 8124 Oak St., and can be reached at 324-3445.