Chef & Partner: La Boca Steakhouse, High Hat Cafe, Ancora Pizzeria restaurants
In a town filled with world-renowned Creole restaurants, Chef Adolfo Garcia stands out. He’s a culinary traditionalist and pioneer.
You won’t find, gumbos, remoulade or bread pudding on his menus, however. Flavorful dishes are deeply imbued with Adolfo’s unique heritage and experience.
Growing up in New Orleans, Adolfo Garcia was keenly aware of both the city’s culinary reputation as well as dishes his ancestors enjoyed. His family is Panamanian and they loved to travel and explore other cultures. He studied history at the University of Texas, and chose to pursue his passion for gastronomy. Garcia graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. After stages in high-end London, Madrid, and NYC restaurants, he returned to New Orleans eight years later inspired to cook from an historical perspective. He was ready to introduce traditional dishes, albeit ones wholly new to the city.
“Other New Orleans restaurants serve seafood, of course, but no one else does it from a Latin perspective,” Garcia says. “What we do can’t be found in a cookbook. It’s not in a magazine either. RioMar is totally unique.” The restaurant seamlessly blends a strong Spanish influence within its Latin American menu.
Quality is paramount. Garcia credits his commitment to serving the best, freshest seafood for achieving RioMar’s high reputation in the competitive New Orleans dining scene since the restaurant first opened in 2000 with business partner Nick Bazan. Leading up to RioMar, Garcia had been the mastermind behind the well-loved Criollo and was named Best New Chef by New Orleans Magazine. He’d led the kitchen of Lucky Cheng’s, the infamous French Quarter locale where fusion Chinese was dished out by drag queens. (Garcia, thankfully, always stayed in his chef’s whites.)
Garcia and Bazan followed RioMar’s success in 2006 by opening La Boca, an Argentine Steakhouse (an homage to Bazan’s ancestry and some of Garcia’s favorite flavors). It was again an immediate hit with critics and guests.
Accolades include Garcia being named James Beard 2010 Semifinalist Best Chef for the South, Best Chef by New Orleans Magazine for both RioMar and La Boca. Hispanic Magazine named Garcia as one of the Top 8 Latin Chefs in the Country. The New Orleans Times-Picayune has also included RioMar in its Top Ten Best Restaurants list. When the James Beard House highlighted Latin American Chefs, Garcia was selected alongside the likes of Aaron Sanchez and Douglas Rodriguez to showcase their cuisine.
With RioMar and La Boca firmly established, Garcia was ready pursue his next dream.