The name of a soon-to-open Vancouver eatery has been causing heated discussions on social media the past few days, but its owners have no plans to let this controversy slow down its launch.
Escobar (4245 Fraser Street) is a Latin American-inspired restaurant and bar that will focus on serving Latin-influenced dishes and signature cocktails in a vintage-meets-modern atmosphere.
This is the second food-and-drink venture for co-owners Alex Kyriazis and Ari Demosten, who previously ran the Eastwood in the exact same spot.
“We’ve been planning Escobar for quite some time, [and] it’s really a passion project for us,” Demosten told the Straight in a phone interview. “We were initially looking for a location nearby, but when it didn’t work out we noticed there was going to be some street construction on Fraser Street. We saw it as a great opportunity to change up our current spot and change it into something incredible.”
The 1,500-square-foot space with 60 seats has been transformed into an upscale establishment that features black-and-white Spanish floor tiles, white marble tables, royal purple tufted seats, and glossy black tiles that line the walls.
Guests can expect a menu that feature Latin American and Spanish flavours, with items like empanadas (puff pastry, sous-vide eggs, olives, chorizo, fresh chimichurri, and lemon balm); patatas bravas (home-style potato, dill caper aioli, roasted red pepper tomato jam); Spanish braised baby octopus; and roasted bone marrow, among many others.
For those with a sweet tooth, go for the warm churros (with salted rosemary caramel and house-made ricotta cinnamon candy glass) or dark chocolate mousse (with cayenne pepper, orange zest, and bourbon vanilla whipped cream).
“What we are really trying to bring to our guests is a finer dining experience and finer dining service in a completely casual atmosphere with knowledgeable staff,” explained Demosten. “You’ll get an overall experience with incredible taste and remarkable cocktails.”
Besides the culinary creations, Escobar will also offer an extensive bar program. Its signature cocktail list features 12 unique libations, including Abuelito (Sombra Mezcal, blue agave, lime, pineapple star anise bitters, and foraged pine-smoked glass); Bouquet of Flowers (house-infused rose marigold gin, violette, lillet, lemon , orange bitters, rose tincture, and seasonally foraged flower); and Colombian Coffee (Hornitos Tequila, Frangelico, Galliano, cold-brew espresso, coffee tobacco bitters, and roasted marshmallow).
“It’s not just coming and getting a drink and eating great food, you’re really going to get a little bit of a show and see the real craftsmanship and passion that goes into everything,” said Demosten.
In response to the local Colombian community that’s been upset by the restaurant and bar’s name (it alludes to Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, a notorious Colombian drug lord and narco-terrorist), the co-owners emphasizes that they never intended to pay tribute to a drug lord.
“All the attention has really taken us by surprise, [and] we were really quite shocked. It was never our intention to offend anyone. All I can really say is that Escobar is just a play on words, emphasizing ‘bar’ and Latin influence,” explained Demosten. “We aren’t trying to celebrate in anyway the negative elements of drug cartels, violence, or murder. We’re really here celebrating a Latin American-inspired bar atmosphere.”
The city’s Colombian community is planning to stage a protest outside the restaurant on its opening day (May 11) if the owners do not change the name of the establishment.
But for those who plan on checking out the new spot during its official debut, reservations are being accepted beginning tomorrow (May 1).
“I think if you’re looking for great food and drink in a casual atmosphere, and are open to trying new things and new creations, then this is definitely the spot you’re going to want to come and try for sure,” added Demosten.
Scroll through the photos below for a peek inside the new eatery.