Tortuga y Chango opens in Decatur for mezcal and seafood

Part of the team behind popular Edgewood Mexican restaurant Taqueria El Tesoro is debuting a new concept today in Decatur.

Located at 910 W. College Ave. in the former Lawrence’s Cafe space, Tortuga y Chango “is our best interpretation of the intimate mezcal bars visited throughout the Mezcal-producing regions of Mexico,” according to the restaurant’s website.

The restaurant features a wide variety of mezcals, in addition to cocktails from beverage director Orestes Cruz, who grew up in Mexico City and New Orleans. Cruz, who has been in the hospitality industry for a decade, was a finalist in the Tales of the Cocktails - Bombay’s Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender competition this year.

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Credit: Tortuga y Chango

Credit: Tortuga y Chango

For Tortuga y Chango’s food offerings, El Tesoro kitchen manager Hugo Suastegui tapped into his upbringing in Acapulco, Mexico for inspiration. Dishes include Mejillones, mussels in a tomato-based broth with butter, beer, limon confit and grilled bread; and Vieras a la Sarten, with scallops, a corn and jalapeno puree and vegetables.

“We wanted to keep it simple,” said Alan Raines, who co-owns Tortuga y Chango with Sam Eaves, the director of hospitality for Taqueria el Tesoro. “A lot of it was driven from Hugo’s past, but we tried to cross over and infuse things with Oaxacan influences.”

The 1,700-square-foot space offers seating for 40, with about half of that dedicated to reserved tables and 19 seats at the bar for walk-ins.

Decor elements include bartops and shelves made with 250-year-old walnut wood; a 30-foot-long wall covered with textiles, block prints and photographic art from Mexico; handblown glass lamps; and custom ironwork.

“It’s a hybrid between a sleek and rustic kind of finish,” Raines said.

Raines, who opened Taqueria El Tesoro on Arkwright Place in 2018, was previously involved in an incarnation of El Tesoro in Decatur and Cantina La Casita in East Atlanta Village.

He said he considers El Tesoro and Tortuga y Chango “like brother and sister. They’re kind of polar opposites. El Tesoro is the outdoor Austin carnival of tacos and margaritas, and Tortuga y Chango has a defined cocktail program and is more inimate. They’re different facades of what we do.”

Tortuga y Chango’s neighbors in the strip of businesses affectionately known as Homer Simpson Plaza include Revolution Doughnuts and beer shop Ale Yeah. Pizza eatery Corner Slice is set to open in the coming weeks.

The restaurant’s opening hours are 5-11 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays.

910 W. College Ave., Atlanta. 404-257-6232, tortugaychango.com.

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Credit: Tortuga y Chango

Credit: Tortuga y Chango

Credit: Tortuga y Chango

Credit: Tortuga y Chango

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