Josef Centeno dubbed his new restaurant “Bar Amá” in homage to the foods his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother cooked in his native San Antonio, Texas. (Amá is short for mamá.) But don’t expect a replica of their kitchens. “It’s the food I grew up with, but my version,” says the chef.
Bar Amá, focusing on Tex-Mex, is slated to open Sat., Dec. 15, just down the street from Centeno’s Bäco Mercat in downtown’s Old Bank District. At first, hours will be 6 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday through Saturday.
Many scorn Tex-Mex for its “Macho Combos” and “Pancho Villa Platters.” But Centeno counters that the cuisine began simple and homey… Continue reading
Most diners at Bäco Mercat have probably tried to guess chef Josef Centeno’s upbringing from what they see on their plates. Jonathan Gold has observed that the menu mixes “flavors from Italy, France and Western China, Georgia (U.S.) and Georgia (eastern Europe), Tuscany and Peru.” In fact, the chef comes from San Antonio, Texas. Hence, the new restaurant he plans to open next fall: Bar Amá. The menu? Tex-Mex, the food Centeno grew up with… Continue reading
Josef Centeno has had his plate full since his new restaurant, Bäco Mercat, opened its doors in early November. Good thing it’s only half a mile from the Lazy Ox Canteen where he continues as chef.We recently found Centeno perched high on a ladder outside Bäco Mercat wielding a squeegee. It was his first day off in weeks, he said. “But I guess I’m still working,” the chef-owner added with a shrug as he wiped another window clean… Continue reading
A couple of days ago, I arrived for lunch early and peeked into the kitchen. Cooks were slamming huarache-shaped rounds of dough onto a hot griddle where bubbles burst forth like boiling lava. These flatbreads became the base for bäcos and cocas, two of the menu’s signature items….The coca I tasted came with confit tomato sauce, mozzarella, smoked jalapeno and basil. And it was delicious – the perfect mix of dry crunch and soft, savory sauce. But wait. Wasn’t it just a thin version of pizza?… Continue reading
Locals in downtown’s Historic Core this week were quick to sniff out the area’s newest lunchtime option, Bäco Mercat. The eatery — still in its “soft-opening” — greeted its first customers Tuesday.”We decided at midnight on Monday that we would open doors for two hours the next day,” chef-owner Josef Centeno told us yesterday. “We’re playing it by ear.” Just before noon, Centeno illuminated a glowing red “bäco” sign, signaling the start of lunch. Continue reading
The bäco is back, and this time, in a starring role. Josef Centeno’s Bäco Mercat is slated to open Monday, Oct. 24 for lunch. The chef and owner describes his signature dish as “a sandwich-taco-pizza hybrid that encompasses my style of cooking in a sandwich: a lot of flavorful meat and sauce combinations.” The name derives from Centeno’s concept of a global taco…. Continue reading