Shocking shutters

Unique Mexican eatery from mainstay Austin restaurant group suddenly closes

Unique Mexican eatery from mainstay Austin group suddenly closes

Alcomar ATX interior
El Chile Group is retiring South First Street's Alcomar. Alcomar/ Facebook

UPDATE: El Chile Group tells CultureMap that the restaurant group is actively looking for a new location to house Alcomar, but the group has nothing else to add to the previous statement.

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Just days after the news of Bonhomie’s shutter, another upscale Austin restaurant has been swept out to sea. In an Instagram post released after 12 am on May 23, Alcomar announced that May 22 was its last day of service.

The eatery opened in April 2015 at 1816 S. First St., the former home of an El Chile location that previously housed Tex-Mex eatery La Reyna. The coastal concept combined the talents of two of El Chile Group's longtime chefs, Alma Alcocer-Thomas from El Alma and Jeff Martinez from El Chile, whose names were combined to create "Alcomar."

The initial menu specialized in Latin seafood such as pastor octopus tostadas, ceviche, shrimp pozole, and red snapper with mole verde. Although seafood remained a focus, the menu eventually evolved, with crowd-pleasing dishes like queso flameado and tacos gradually appearing.

However, the changes and the buzzy happy hour didn’t seem to be enough in an increasingly expensive Austin. In the Instagram post, Alcomar points to a proposed rent increase from the landlords as the reason for the closure.

“We worked diligently to renegotiate a new lease that would allow us to continue offering an affordable high-quality dining experience, but staying open was simply not a viable option,” the post reads.

El Chile Group is certainly no stranger to turmoil and is known to quickly shuffle concepts when restaurants underperform. The company's former concepts include Southwestern eatery El Gringo; chef Kristine Kittrell’s Italian-focused Stortini; Red House Pizzeria; and, most recently, burgers and botanas spot El Sapo, itself a rework of Flat Top Burger Shop.

The group is currently operating four locations of El Chilito, as well as the original El Chile on Manor Road, El Alma, and Peruvian eatery Yuyo. CultureMap has reached out to the group for further comment.