Before a restaurant opens for service, the staff often gather for a family meal. More often than not, the food is a departure from the regular menu.
For instance, at Bardea Food & Drink in downtown Wilmington, an Italian concept, tacos became the employees’ popular choice during the pandemic.
“We had some of the most memorable staff meals,” recalled Scott Stein, who owns the restaurant with executive chef Antimo DiMeo. “The entire kitchen participated, and on some of our darkest days, it gave us a little hope — a bonding moment.”
The tacos were so tasty that when Phubs’ space became available in DE.CO, a downtown food hall, Bardea’s owners decided to open a taqueria.
“We thought it was an empowering time to create the concept,” Stein said. “The entire kitchen collaborated with Antimo on the menu.”
The approach is appropriate, he added. “DE.CO was created as a launching pad for young chefs and entrepreneurs.”
Taqueria el Chingon opened quietly on Wednesday with a focused menu.
Chingon is a colloquial term for something masterful, cool or awesome.
“We’re making bad-ass tacos,” he said. Consider pork al pastor with pineapple, togarashi (a Japanese condiment), lime and peppadew remoulade.
Other choices he mentioned are beef cheek with barbacoa, mole verde and mango mostarda, as well as chorizo with chipotle, corn salsa, queso fresco
The menu also offers sides, including beans, rice and guacamole.
The taqueria is Bardea’s second stall in the food hall; Pizzeria Bardea is the first.
The hospitality group is also opening Bardea Steak near Bardea Food & Drink, which was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award.
Stein said that the sluggish supply chain has delayed the steakhouse’s opening.
If Taqueria el Chingon is a hit, the partners want to create a full-service Mexican concept.
That establishment will be in good company.
Del Pez Mexican Gastropub and Taco Grande are on the Wilmington Riverfront. But Taqueria el Chingon can command the business district, which Buccini Pollin Group is turning into a live-work-play section of the city.
A Facebook and website for the taqueria are in the works. For information, call 302-300-4961.
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