4/22/2007 — New Orleans’ most prominent restaurateur of Latin descent, considers La Boca (because it’s a steakhouse) RioMar’s “flipside.” Still, the Latin theme, along with the simplicity and quality of its cooking, connects the restaurant to its seafood-centric sibling. With their wine lists and $20 entrees, both RioMar and La Boca are a far cry from the neighborhood taquerias and pupuserias that have recently opened throughout the area. These days, Garcia splits his time between the restaurants, whose kitchens he otherwise entrusts to Wicks and Jared Ralls, La Boca’s chef de cuisine. (Yvette Yates, who Garcia had tapped to be the opening chef at La Boca, died last spring.) Garcia was sitting in Baru Cafe, yet another new Latin American restaurant in Kenner, when he said he and Bazan would consider opening another place. The area’s shifting demographic trends would seem to bolster the value of his sensibility, not to mention the skill set he relies on to recruit and train employees, in which he instills uncommon loyalty. (Wicks said Garcia gave him 10 percent ownership of La Boca “just for being here so long.”) “The pieces are in place,” he said. He doesn’t know what kind of restaurant he would open next, only that it would “come from the Latin perspective. Always.”
Garcia’s places La Boca 857 Fulton St., (504) 525-8205 The Argentine-style steakhouse is a tribute to the cooking of co-owner Nick Bazan’s homeland. Look for grilled chorizo, chewy shortribs and big-flavored hanger and skirt steaks, all complemented by a Latin-centric wine list and an assortment of chimichurri, the garlicky national condiment of Argentina. RioMar 800 S. Peters St., (504) 525-3474 The sign calls it “a seafood destination,” and it’s no lie. Spain and Latin America may provide the framework, but it’s the seafood of the Gulf (and points beyond) that take center stage. Highlights include a variety of ceviches, an elegant take on escabeche, pan-roasted sheepshead and albacore tuna empanadas. Spanish tapas are lunchtime specialty.