On Friday, February 14, four Los Angeles chefs — including Esdras Ochoa, a former semifinalist on Netflix's The Final Table — are opening a restaurant in East Austin called Reunión 19.
Joining Ochoa on the project are chef Christopher Haydostian, mixologist Daniel Eun, and Charlie Tsai, friends who met in Los Angeles. Their new restaurant, according to a release, "accentuates LA sensibility and focuses on West Coast-inspired adaptations of classic Mexican food and tacos."
Though Ochoa will not be involved in the day-to-day operations, he will be hosting pop-ups and special events when in town.
The new taqueria's menu includes pollo asado with aji verde and charred lemon, grilled cauliflower steak with house-made mole and seasonal vegetables, carnitas, and beer-battered snapper fish tacos. It also offers patatas a la french, described as "carne asada french fries with aji verde, an LA twist on traditional nachos."
After moving to Austin, Haydostian, who recently was executive chef for St. David's HealthCare, according to his LinkedIn, missed the carne asada he grew up eating in Los Angeles. He reached out to Ochoa with his idea to start a new restaurant, and the two traveled to Ochoa's native Mexico to conduct research, visiting Mexico City, Mexicali, Calexico, Ensenada, and Tijuana conducting tastings.
"They applied the authentic techniques and flavors they studied and created the menu at Reunión 19 building on the idea of paying homage to their cultures and experiences. As they pulled more friends into the project, their vision for the menu evolved — much like the culinary scene in LA where everyone cooking is from somewhere else," notes the release.
Like the food menu, the beverage offerings focus on scratch-made and natural ingredients, with a particular emphasis on tequila and mezcal. Among the drinks available are aguas frescas, palomas, frozen drinks, craft beers, and wine.
Reunión 19's location at 1700 E. Second St. was previously home to Osteria Al Fico, an Italian-style restaurant that closed in 2016 after being open just eight months. Most recently, the building house Gotham, which shuttered in October.
Beginning Friday, the taqueria will be open daily from 10 am-10 pm, offering lunch and dinner. Brunch should roll out later this spring.