Food news in the neighborhood

Two recent developments: the closing in December of the neighborhood homey Mexican restaurant La Morenita (at 800 Emerson St., across Homer Ave. from Whole Foods and around the corner from my house, to the southwest) and its replacement a week ago by Taverna, a stylish Greek restaurant; and the recent opening of the Georgian restaurant Bevri (at 530 Bryant St., a couple of blocks from my place, to the northeast).

La Morenita offered Mexican comfort food in an unpretentious homey atmosphere. The Palo Alto restaurant, run by Miguel and Aurora Revuelta (who have now retired), opened May 25, 1994, as one in a string of La Morenitas founded by Aurora’s aunt, Guadalupe (Lupe) Cordoba (Lupe’s first restaurant was in Turlock, in the Central Valley). Lupe Cordoba’s nickname was La Morenita (roughly ‘the little dark-skinned girl’).

[Onomastic digression. The origin is the Spanish masc. noun Moro ‘Moor’ (as in the beans and rice dish Moros y Cristianos, lit. ‘Moors and Christians’, that is, ‘blacks and whites’), with stem mor-. From that we get the fem. noun morena, with stem mor-en-. From the Oxford dictionary site:

morena: A woman with a dark complexion, especially (in South and Central America) a woman of mixed descent or of African origin.

But also ‘brunette’.

And adding the diminutive suffix -it- gives us mor-en-it-a.]

The entrance to the restaurant:

(#1)

And its main menu:

(#2) A warm, modest place, with modest prices

(plus specials on the board for each day of the week).

Taverna. From the Mountain View Voice on 4/19/18, “Greek restaurant Taverna opening in Palo Alto”:

There are traces of Greece everywhere in Taverna, a new restaurant opening Monday [April 23rd] at 800 Emerson St. in downtown Palo Alto.

Framed black-and-white photographs of statues and busts, taken by the owners’ friend at the archaeological Acropolis Museum in Greece, hang on the dining room’s walls. Dark blue bottles of sparkling water imported from Greece sit on tables, which along with the light blue wooden chairs were also brought to Palo Alto from Greece. Ceramic pots sourced from an artists’ co-op in Athens line shelves high on the restaurant’s walls. Co-owner Thanasis Pashalidis picked up the restaurant’s narrow, bright-blue front door, which he said was made in 1935 (it’s since been repainted), at a junkyard in Greece.

Pashalidis and co-owner Hakan Bala are opening Taverna with chef William Roberts. The team has strong local ties.

… dinner service [5-10 p.m.] Monday through Saturday. The owners plan to add lunch in May.

So, stylish.

No good pictures yet of the exterior. Here’s the main photo from the restaurant’s website:

(#3)

The main menu:

(#4)

and the dessert menu:

(#5)

Taverna’s main competition is the very high-end Evvia Estitorio at 420 Emerson St. (with which it has close ties). Otherwise, Palo Alto has two modest Greek places: Gyros Gyros, 498 University Ave., downtown; and Kali Greek Kitchen, 451 S.California Ave., in the California Avenue shopping district.

Bevri. Who would have thought, a Georgian restaurant (think Tbilis, not Atlanta)? To go along with our two Burmese restaurants downtown, plus the West Indian (mostly Jamaican) restaurant Coconuts. (Every place has Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Middle Eastern, etc., but we have some extras.)

They have a minimal website, with a menu divided into a lot of pieces, but here are some highlights from it:

eggplant rolls, lobio (beans with coriander, walnuts, garlic and onion), beet salad, kharcho (traditional Georgian soup with meat, cherry plum purée made from tkemali, rice, chopped walnut and the spice mix), khinkali (large soup dumplings: beef & pork, beef & lamb, mushrooms & cheese), khachapuri (cheese-filled bread), salmon, trout, shish kebab, lamb ribs, tapaka (traditional Georgian dish of a pan-fried chicken with garlic and herbs), crepes, chocolate fondant, Georgian and Czech beer, Georgian red wine, Georgian white wine

Middling price range.

 

One Response to “Food news in the neighborhood”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Reading your explanation of Morenita, I immediately remembered that in Sindarin (one of Tolkien’s invented “Elvish” languages), the element mor, which occurs in a lot of his names, means “black”. Sindarin is not at all like Spanish, but I can’t help thinking that the association was somewhere in Tolkien’s consciousness.

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