Credit: Times-Picayune / NOLA.COM
Written by Brett Anderson
Argentine steakhouse La Boca isn’t the be-all, end-all, but it sizzles all the same
In the spring of 2006, New Orleans needed a lot of things. A fully functioning justice system comes to mind. Affordable housing would have come in handy as well.
As it turns out, the city also was in the market for something considerably less urgent but nonetheless keenly desired: a quality steakhouse. In retrospect, it is hard to imagine a more perfect answer to that particular problem than La Boca.
Considering how many restaurants that spoke to New Orleans’ steakhouse history remained shuttered — Crescent City,Charlie’s, Ruth’s Chris, Dickie Brennan’s — beef grilled by well-meaning amateurs wasn’t going to cure what ailed us. And the occasion didn’t call for — and still doesn’t — another steakhouse that requires corporate backing to both build and patronize. The need was for a steakhouse that hinted at progress while providing familiar comforts.
La Boca continues to satisfy these criteria and then some. Borrowing from the Argentine steakhouse tradition, the restaurant has given New Orleans a taste of something new without losing sight of what diners really want when they venture to a steakhouse: steak. The rub at La Boca is that very few of the steaks will be mistaken for what dad threw on the grill.
The restaurant is the brain child of chef Adolfo Garcia and partner Nick Bazan, who made their mark with the seafood-oriented RioMar. La Boca is their second foray into the Latin culinary diaspora, but the restaurant does not have the disposition of a neglected second child. The partners have left it in the hands of two trusted lieutenants: chef Jared Ralls and maitre d’/general manager Orestes Rodriguez, both of whom have embraced the restaurant as though it were their own.