I had lunch with a buddy last Friday at Johnny Sanchez’s, downtown. It’s the semi-casual creation of chefs John Besh and Aaron Sanchez. They drop off a bowl of shaved, fried plantain strips, house made tortilla chips and two salsas, green and red. This starter gives you a hint of what’s to come, well-balanced flavors and distinct dishes. For an app we had the Queso Fundido. It was served in a hot dish, a generous portion of flavorful, salty cheese over a very good mixture of Poblano pepper and chorizo. It’s served with six warm corn tortillas, and I could have eaten a tub of it.
We both ordered the tacos, two per order done in the traditional street style of two corn tortillas per taco. My buddy ordered the shrimp – lightly battered and fried and similar to fish and chips. The shrimp was tossed in a light sauce of indeterminate construction and topped with pickled carrots and onion. While the shrimp was perfectly cooked, I found the sauce to be a tad strange. It didn’t quite overwhelm the shrimp, but it came close. I ordered the Mangalista pork belly tacos. Small cubes of pork belly are slow roasted then finished off in the deep fryer and tossed with an achiote glaze and grilled pineapple salsa. This was a stunningly good dish and one of the best bites I’ve had in the last year. The pork was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The achiote sauce provided the perfect amount of heat for the dish. And as someone who can’t do cilantro, I applaud them on their restrained use of that vile plant.
The space on Poydras St. is large, open and airy. Service was prompt with a knowledgeable server who made enthusiastic recommendations. The crab and corn quesadilla that they’re offering during Lent will be my next meal there, that is if I can stop myself from ordering the pork belly tacos again.