At Mari Chuy’s Tequileria y Botanas, set to debut this September in the Village at Rancharrah, look for a tower of tequila and hanging tacos and Frida Kahlo watching from on high.
The new spot makes three Mari Chuy’s restaurants owned by Jesus “Chuy” Gutierrez and his wife, Mari, following their locations in Midtown Reno and Sparks.
Mari Chuy’s Rancharrah launches as the couple looks ahead to their 20th anniversary in Reno restaurant business. In 2002, they opened Fresh Mex in a West Fifth Street center, now razed, where they drew praise for fish tacos that won a citywide taco taste-off (judged by Yours Truly back in the day).
“This place in the Village has been in my mind for 25 years: How can we import more family-made tequilas into Reno? Start a tequila bar — that’s how we do it,” said Chuy Gutierrez, who is known for extensive tequila selection in his other restaurants.
About 140 tequilas on sip
At Mari Chuy’s No. 3, tequila takes even more pride of place, Gutierrez said, during an exclusive discussion with Reno News & Review.
A tequila retail area and lockers where regulars can store their tequilas will lie just beyond the entrance. A pyramid of tequila bottles will ascend on the granite front bar shaped like a horseshoe; on the back bar, lighted hutches will display tequila bottles.
Decorative piñas (cactus hearts used to make tequila) form a frieze above the kitchen pass-through; decorative agave cacti are set into the floor. Total tequilas on pour? About 140, Gutierrez said.
Besides tequilas for sipping and for drinks like a sexy margarita (a rocks mingling of reposado, citrus and Tajin hot sauce), Mari Chuy’s Rancharrah also will offer wine and six local beers on tap.
Tacos, all strung out (or up)
On the botanas (“snacks”) side, think queso fundido; guacamole jabbed with jalapeño bacon; a salad of mango, orange, jicama and cucumber seasoned with Tajin and spurts of lime juice; roasted vegetables dredged in roasted serrano hummus; and a host of tacos, including tacos tendedero pinned to a line and served hanging like laundry (tendedero being the Spanish word for clothesline).
Construction on Mari Chuy’s Rancharrah began at the start of this year, Gutierrez said. When complete, the restaurant will seat about 60 inside (bar and dining areas) and 50 on the terrace. An opening party and Mexican Independence Day celebration is scheduled for Sept. 16. Tickets are $40 for a taco plate, drink, tequila tasting and live entertainment.
An image of the famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, at once beautiful and terrifying in a magnificent flowered headdress, gazes boldly from one wall of the new restaurant, and fittingly so. The painter has a tequila named for her.
Dolce Vita spa is a short walk across the Village at Rancharrah from Mari Chuy’s Tequileria y Botanas. If you book a treatment or buy a day pass, you can visit Nourish Bar, which combines a bar, a lounge, and a terrace looking onto the pond and mansion clubhouse of the Rancharrah development.
Nourish might be part of a wellness spa, but forget the bitter torture of wheatgrass. The menu incorporates not only matcha lemonade and superfood smoothies (vegan proteins, nondairy milks), but also lattes, wines by the glass and bottle, and more than a dozen cocktails made with traditional spirits and mixers, and with ingredients like carrot juice and turmeric.
“We wanted to give our guests the whole experience, along with a healthful flair. It’s a balance of health and indulgence,” said Debby Bullentini, Dolce Vita’s business development manager and a longtime Reno beverage professional who created the menu at Nourish.
Have another glass
Bullentini, many folks will remember, owned the much-missed L’Uva Bella Wine Gallery, so the small wine list at Nourish is thoughtful and nicely edited.
Like a Fossil Point rosé of grenache from Edna Valley, Calif.—“I love the dryness of it,” Bullentini said. “It has a great rhubarb flavor.” Or a BonAnno cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley, a Napa cab being obligatory on any Reno wine list.
“There’s a little fruit, but it is not a fruit bomb,” Bullentini said. “It has a great finish. I did not want to have an astronomically priced Napa cab so that people will have a second glass if they love it.” (Price: $15 a glass and a very fair $45 a bottle.)
Cocktail creativity; bites and bites
Flip the menu card over from the wine to find the cocktails. For a gin blossom, a chilled coupe is rinsed in rose water before receiving a stir of Empress gin, at once light and full, and lavender syrup.
The lunar eclipse, possibly the best drink on the list, unites local Tahoe Blue Vodka, turmeric syrup, honey tea bitters and citrus. The garnish: a purple carrot drizzled with local honey. On paper, the drink sounds a bit baroque, but on the palate, it works beautifully, without a hint of the carrot juice rawness that would disrupt a cocktail.
Nourish also serves what the menu dubs “bites and boxes”: hummus and vegetables, açai bowls, shareable charcuterie, chocolate truffles, muffins and scones.
Barn-style doors with translucent faux wood inlays mark the entrance to Nourish. Teardrop fixtures hang above the bar. A digital fireplace anchors one end of the lounge punctuated with ti plants, potted sea grass and framed wood cores. Ceilings soar to nearly 14 feet. In good weather, the terrace waits for al fresco sipping.
Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink writer for Reno News & Review. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsJLW or on Facebook personally or at @FoodNevada. Sign up here for the Reno News & Review free weekly newsletter highlighting our most recent stories.