If there’s one thing Geronimo Tequila Bar and Southwest Grill executive chef Tim Scott wants to get across, it’s that the food is Southwestern, not Mexican.
It’s all about the chiles, he says. That’s the big difference between the New Mexican cuisine and that of Mexico. Geronimo gets their Hatch and Chimayo chiles straight from New Mexico. They also meld the dishes and flavors of Native American food, like their frybread. Not all their dishes are Southwestern but everything they make gets a Southwestern twist, like the salads they serve with quesadillas and tacos. “We listen to what the public wants, we get the feedback and we respond,” Scott says.
Geronimo opened in November of 2007. Mark Knight, one of the partners, had been going to Santa Fe for 25 years and wanted to create a Southwest restaurant here. Scott, who trained in France and had decades of food experience in the US – including running New Haven’s Scoozi and Bruxelles – came on board in 2008.
Geronimo offers a kind of southwestern pub food. It’s not a three-course meal, but the dishes are hearty and filling. They are sized so you can order just for yourself, or share with others. They keep their eye on the in-house quality of the cooking, and keeping the ingredients as authentic the the Southwest and West as possible. The buffalo and elk is from a South Dakota co-op. Smoked items are done out back behind the restaurant. Nearly everything, right down to the salad dressings, is made from scratch.
Don’t forget the “Tequila Bar” part of their name. They have the largest collection of tequilas on the East Coast – 320 and counting. They also have a substantial collection of mezcals, another distillate of the agave cactus. Mezcal comes from 28 agave varieties that are found in a large geographical area, while tequila is made from a particular agave called Blue Weber. “The processes to make the two liquors are different,” Scott says. “Agave for tequila is steamed, for Mezcal is fire-pit roasted, that’s why you get that smokier flavor. The trend is moving away from that, and doing more autoclave steaming so you don’t get the smokiness and instead, focusing on the flavor of each of the agaves, so you can [taste] the nuances of each agave.”
Whether it is the nuance of the specialized drinks, or the flavors of the various chiles, eating at Geronimo brings a little bit of the Southwest into the gritty Northeast.
Restaurant Website: http://www.geronimobarandgrill.com/
• The Detes: 271 Crown St., New Haven, 203-777-7700. Open seven days. Lunch: Monday through Saturday, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Dinner: Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. – 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. – midnight, Sunday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
• Price Range: Tacos, tamales, rellenos $9-20, chili $7-16, Navajo frybread $10-12, burgers $10-12, main plates $16-28..
• Style of Food: Southwestern fusion.
• Favorite dishes: chicken quesadilla, chorizo and fig fry bread, buffalo nickels, quinoa relleno.
• Vegetarian/gluten free: yes; in every category you will find a vegetarian option and many dishes are gluten-free.
• Drinks: specialize in tequilas and mezcals.
• Take out: yes
• Outdoor seating: yes, year-round!