Monday, March 9, 2015

The Happiest of Happy Hours at Johnny Sánchez

– Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard

A couple of weeks ago, Blair and I took a little road trip to New Orleans to interview the Headmistress of Hops herself, Nora McGunnigle. We made it to the city sooner than expected, and to kill some time we figured we'd stop in somewhere and take advantage of some Happy Hour deals.

That's when we stumbled upon Johnny Sánchez. The restaurant, situated in the CBD, resulted from the combined efforts of Chefs Aarón Sánchez and John Besh. Together, the two established a Mexican-style taqueria utilizing the amazing local ingredients available in New Orleans. 

Johnny Sánchez has a super cool interior. Find them at 930 Poydras Street in New Orleans. 

With a focus on local ingredients and the super cool atmosphere, it's no surprise it was a hit with us. 

The moment we were seated, we were brought a green, chunky salsa and a dark red, thinner salsa. For optimum dipping, we were brought tortilla and plantain chips. I'd never tried dipping plantain chips into anything, and after that fateful day, my eyes have been opened. Blair and I couldn't agree on which of the salsas we preferred. Luckily, our waitress kept bringing us refills of each as we decided on our drinks.

Johnny Sánchez has crazy Happy Hour deals. From Sunday to Friday between 3 pm and 6 pm, draft beer, house wine and well mixed drinks are half off. Their house made margarita pitchers are half off. And their street tacos are only five bucks.

Blair and I opted for the 'ritas, made with Agavales blanco, lime, triple sec, and agave and rimmed with salt.

Before we decided on a more substantial meal, we got hit with the best guacamole either of us had ever had. It was made with avocado, pico de gallo, lime and cilantro, which is pretty standard, but it was topped with radish shavings. We couldn't get enough. 

Can't get enough of this guac. 

As for the street tacos, we ordered one of each. You know, for science. 

The Pork Carnitas taco is filled with slow-cooked pork, chipotle, and raw onion. As a pork fan, this was one of my favorites. The combination of the pork flavors with crunchy onion does me in every time. 

JS carnitas
The Pork Carnitas street taco

The Al Pastor, with chargrilled pork, achiote, and grilled pineapple was a close second. I'll put grilled pineapple on anything. The acidity of the grilled pineapple complemented the pork really well. 

The Al Pastor street taco

The Papas con Rajas were a happy surprise. I didn't have much faith in a taco filled with Yukon gold potatoes, grilled poblano peppers and onions, and chihuahua, but I clearly underestimated my love for carb-based tacos.

JS Papas
The Papas con Rajas street taco

It has been well-documented that Blair loves beef tongue. The Lengua was right up her alley: slow-cooked beef tongue, Valentina hot sauce, and white onion. It's almost like this taco was made with Blair in mind. Valentina is her hot sauce of choice at home. 

JS Lengua
The Lengua street taco

Last, but definitely not least, the Chorizo y Camote, with Mexican chorizo, crispy sweet potatoes, and pickled red onion. These might have been my favorite. They reminded me of the authentic street tacos I had in Austin. Once you try the pink pickled onion, there's no going back. I have dreams about these tacos. 

JS chorizo
The Chorizo y Camote street taco

By this point, we'd finished our 'ritas. Blair ordered a beer, and I ordered a wine, and we continued munching and talking happily until we left the CBD to meet Nora at Avenue Pub on St. Charles.

If you want to get in on one of the happiest hours I've experienced, check out Johnny Sánchez.

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