Fresh, exciting yet familiar flavors were everywhere for the Thursday evening’s preview of Botika – the new Peruvian restaurant slated to open at the Pearl Brewery in early June. The event, hosted inside one of the many beautiful homes in the Historic King William District, brought crowds of hungry guests ready to see what Botika Executive Chef Geronimo Lopez and his culinary team had created.
“The idea is to introduce you guys to Botika before we open – this is us, this is what we do, this is a little taste of what we’re up to,” Lopez said.
Lopez has helped run several restaurants including Nao Gastro Latin Bar, where he served as executive chef and lent his Venezuelan roots to celebrate Latin American cuisine. Botika will soon open inside the building that formerly housed The Arcade Midtown Kitchen, and if the culinary preview was any indication of public’s reception, the restaurant will be a welcome addition to the growing Pearl Brewery.
Until June, Botika will be taking part in local events like Culinaria, where they will continue to share flavors and the component of education that comes with the new restaurant.
There are several different variations of Peruvian ceviche, but the dish is typically served raw. The ceviche tradicional limenho – made with fresh flounder, leche de tigre, pisco, crispy cancha and sweet potato – may surprise diners accustomed to traditional Mexican ceviche, but the flavors seem to translate well. Guests rushed to try every dish that left the kitchen, and even headed into the kitchen to watch the chefs work and be closer to the food.
“I think San Antonio is more than ready for this,” Lopez said. “What we have is very approachable. We do fried rice, noodles, steamed buns and I think people are pretty familiar with these concepts, it just has a little spin on it.”
There aren’t many Peruvian restaurants in San Antonio and Chef Lopez has received a steady stream of congratulatory messages on social media since Botika was announced. Peruvians living in San Antonio are excited to see the restuarant introduce the cuisine to the city.
“I think they have a world renown (reputation for cuisine), and they earn it. Peru has been named the gastronomical destination of the world four years in a row,” Lopez said. “Everytime I go, I’m just fascinated by the food, and in general, the quality of anything they serve.”
The drinks at Botika will be no exception.
David Arciniega, owner of Amaya’s Cocina, will serve as Botika’s Bar Manager. Arciniega has created nearly a dozen cocktails for the menu with well-known, simple ingredients to create tasty drinks, including the matcha tea pisco cocktail – a refreshingly cool beverage that features pisco, the national spirit of Peru.
“This is going to be very different from what you’re used to,” said Arciniega, who has created nearly a dozen cocktails for the restaurant and has selected a number of Latin American wines and beers as well.
Arciniega and Lopez previously worked together at Nao Latin Gastro Bar for several years, and the two have carefully developed menus that will complement food and beverage equally.
Lopez suspects Peruvian cuisine is about to take off in America. “Twenty five years ago, you couldn’t convince anyone to eat raw fish, now it’s an everyday thing.”
This is a cuisine that is delicious and healthy, the flavors and intensity are naturally there. Botika will be based on Peruvian dishes, but there will be a number of plates that are influenced by cuisines throughout South America.
“Venezuela has a lot of Chinese immigrants, and a lot of people from Macao,” Lopez said. Though Macao is technically part of mainland China, it was considered a Portuguese territory until 1999. The result is a rich blend of Portuguese and Chinese cultures and cuisine.
“I only recently realized how interesting these dishes are, and how different it is from everywhere else,” Lopez said.
Botika will announce their opening dates via social media soon. The restaurant will initially open for dinner, but expand their hours over the coming months.
“I want to make sure that whoever I’m serving has a very good experience, the idea is to slowly build something that gets us into a rhythm and allows us to find where our niche is,” Lopez said. “It’s up and coming, this is a big moment for us.”
Top Image: Guests enjoy a preview of Botika’s menu inside a home in the historic King William District. Photo by Lea Thompson.