bodega tavern + kitchen

last night j and i checked out bodega, the newest foray into the developing culinary scene in rgv. admittedly i was a little hesitant to check out this new location on opening weekend, usually i prefer to give restaurants a little more time to get on their feet before i try them in earnest, but in this case there was no need for some lead time - we were not disappointed! bodega has done a phenomenal job not just on the decor and menu development but also with the training of their staff.  it joins the likes of salt, house.wine&bistro, infusions and spork in the rotation of our favorite nice/casual date night locations.

we started with the oaxacan rose and the roman cocktails. the roman is bodega's take on the old fashioned,  while the oaxacan rose boasts a deep pink hue from the use of prickly pear juice and has a heavily smoky taste thanks to the inclusion of mezcal. the rose was very different from what i was expecting, and was strongly reminded of laphroaig scotch. if you like smoky scotch/mezcal, it also pairs well with their charcuterie boards (more on these in a moment!) i handed my cutesy pink oaxacan rose over to the hubs and prefered to sip on the roman! don't be deceived by this cocktail's girly color, there's nothing sweet about it. if you're looking for a cutie patootie sweet pink drink i recommend their watermelontini.

one of bodega's unique attractions is their meat curing room, where they season and cure their meats in house. toward the back of the dining room you can see the meats hanging as they cure, and we decided we couldn't leave without trying one of their charcuterie boards as an appetizer. we selected the spicy lamb sausage, brown sugar pork belly, which is like a big slice of bacon, and the brisket pastrami, which were served alongside some texas toast and tomato chutney.  the general manager mentioned going forward they may introduce a brisket pastrami sandwich, which i would be super excited to try, as it was my favorite of all the meats we sampled. i also loved their take on vegetable offerings. to quote our waitress "we wanted to show that vegetables could be something other than offered up alongside a steak." in lieu of salads bodega offers items such as beet frites, carrots topped with granola, and other vegetable sides/small plates that are unique in the valley.

despite this being our first time at bodega, we noticed a few familiar faces. for example our waitress has worked with bodega's chef and owner over at spork, and let us in on a little backstory when she brought us our steak knives for our burger. the knives were handmade in california, and no two are exactly alike. they were purchased awhile back by bodega's owner, in the hopes that one day he would have his own restaurant. given that the burger and fries were absolutely on  point, it makes me happy to see the cutlery he fell in love with being put to such good use!

bodega also features a patio, and communal table in addition to their bar area, a la le pain quotidien, which would also be great for larger parties. dress is upscale casual and the pricing is broad. beer, wine and cocktails are comparable to other restaurants in the valley, in addition to some pricier options such as dom for wine. entrees range in price from $15 to $30, with some market priced options as well.

bodega is open from 4pm-2am monday-friday, and from noon-2am on saturdays. the kitchen closes at 11, and reopens at midnight with a small plates bar menu. on saturdays bodega will offer a cold bar of oysters, peel and eat shrimp, and cocktails as their take on brunch.

if you're in the area be sure to check it out!