Try tacos arabes, ‘Mexican caviar’ this summer at Botanico in Buckhead

The menu at Botanico will feature dishes from the Puebla region of Mexico.
The menu at Botanico will feature dishes from the Puebla region of Mexico.

The restaurant from Big Sky chef to feature food from the Puebla region of Mexico

An Atlanta chef is planning to bring a taste of his native Mexico to Buckhead this summer.

Luis Damian is slated to open his first restaurant, Botanico Kitchen & Bar, this August on the second floor of the Savi Provisions building at 312 Pharr Road, in the space previously occupied by Rise & Revelry. 

Damian, who currently serves as the executive chef of Big Sky in Buckhead, said the restaurant’s name is a nod to the restaurant’s greenhouse-like space, featuring lots of live plants and living walls, as well as a year-round patio that will have open and covered areas.

“There won’t be sombreros hanging on the wall here,” Damian said. “The atmosphere will be more like a high-end Mexican restaurant you might find in Mexico City or Tulum.”

Eighty percent of Botanico’s menu will be comprised of dishes from the Puebla region of Mexico, where Damian is from, with the remaining 20 percent dishes from other parts of Mexico, such as tortas aguadas from Guadalajara. Dishes will be mostly traditionally prepared, while employing some modern techniques such as sous vide.

“The dishes will have the roots of traditional Mexican cooking while innovating with new techniques,” Damian said.

The menu will likely include dishes such as Tostada de Cangrejo, made with steamed blue crab, hoja santa, wild arugula, papálo, avocado, salsa verde cruda, cured onions and smoked salt; Tlacoyos de Huitlacoche, a vegetarian dish made with pre-Hispanic corn masa boats, stuffed with epazote refried beans, Mexican corn truffle, crema, requesón and salsa morita; and Tacos Arábes, made with slow-roasted marinated pork, charred onions, smoked chipotle sambal and gordita flour tortilla.

The exterior of Botanico in Buckhead
The exterior of Botanico in Buckhead

Intrigued by the recent trend of using insects in food? Damian's menu will also include a few dishes made with creepy crawlies. Wagyu Tartare y Mexican Caviar, for example, will be made with cured egg, totopós, toasted sunflower seeds, avocado oil, pickled nopálitos and escamoles, ant larvae commonly consumed in Mexico. Camarones Enchilpayados will include insect aioli made with chicatana ants, chile de árbol, wood-grilled langostines and chaya leaves.

Damian has connected with an “escamales guy” who is helping him source the ingredient straight from Oaxaca.

A pastry chef is working on recipes for dessert offerings, including gancitos, a vanilla sponge cake topped with strawberry marmalade and covered in chocolate.

Dishes will rotate often, but will likely never exceed 12 at a time.

“I can’t control the consistency with something bigger than that, and I want to make sure that everything that comes out is perfect,” Damian said.

For the beverage program, Damian is bringing in a brand ambassador for Ilegal Mezcal to work on a list of mostly mezcal and tequila-based cocktails.

Botanico will be open for dinner only at first, with weekend brunch potentially to be added down the road.

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