Centro Taco, Richard Hales' downtown Mexican restaurant located at 125 SE Third Ave., begins Saturday brunch service this week.
Served Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m., this weekend meal features mashups of traditional breakfast fare and Mexican favorites. The result is a selection of brunch items that are unique and affordable.
Hales, who collaborated on the menu with chef de cuisine James Seyba, wanted to be creative with the menu. "We want to be able to play around in the kitchen. For me, brunch is always fun. We wanted to present an indulgent brunch, almost a stoner brunch. Look, this is Saturday morning, you're with your friends, and you want some rich food."
A good example of decadence can be found in the chicken and waffles ($15). Fried chicken is doused in hot tinga sauce, served on a corn waffle and drizzled with tequila-infused syrup.
A take on a Southern favorite of red eye gravy and grits is the red eye mole with ham a la plancha, grit croquetas, and a fried egg ($12). Benedicts get the Centro Taco treatment with whole-hog carnitas used instead of Canadian bacon ($10), and a breakfast sandwich is made with house-cured and smoked meat and Oaxaca cheese on a homemade roll ($9). Hales explains, "I grew up just wanting bacon and cheese on Cuban bread, so I had to add it to the menu in some form."
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That's not to say that every item is rich and indulgent. Centro Taco offers its raw bar at brunch, including a ceviche of the day, peel and eat shrimp, and a Mexican spice-cured lox tostada with vegan crema, pickled chiles, and caviar ($7). The ceviche is also offered inside a taco ($6).
Vegans will have more than a few options including a vegan egg scramble with vegan chorizo and potatoes ($10), and vegan pancakes ($10) from his wife's recipe."These pancakes are so good, you will never in a million years know that it's 100 percent vegan. We serve it with seasonal fruit, heirloom maple syrup, and agave crema."
Other light fare and sweets include Mexican granola with yogurt, bananas, and berries ($8) and a pastry basket filled with Mexican chocolate croissants and other goodies ($8).
To wash it down, there's Mexican hot chocolate made with milk or water for vegans, coffee, tea, bloody marys ($10), and margaritas ($8). Because an indulgent brunch should always start with a margarita.