Provecho is a new Jalisco-focused Mexican restaurant long on ambition. This ambition isn’t rooted in Provecho’s food – which hews to regional and country-wide staples – but in how its food is executed.
As a tenant of The Churchill, the lofty new outdoor food hall at First and Garfield streets, Provecho operates out of a repurposed shipping container. In a snug 18-by-35-foot space, Provecho’s cooks make masa, press corn tortillas, and griddle them for every tortilla-containing dish but quesadillas (which use flour tortillas).
They press fruit and flowers for aqua frescas every morning: lime, hibiscus, lemon that will be blended with chia seeds, and perhaps strawberries or raspberries for a special flavor.
And perhaps most impressively, owner Ryan Oberholtzer says, “Everything we have is compostable – silverware, cups, everything."
Even clear plastic bags – the ones that bulge like bags that at fairs contain water and a goldfish – harboring horchata and aqua fresca are recycled and recyclable. Oberholtzer serves his drinks in these bags because that’s how he has seen it done in parts of Mexico.
Provecho is Oberholtzer’s second restaurant. He also owns El Centro Cocina, a kitchen inside Bar Smith where he serves “Americanized tacos,” like a brisket taco. Oberholtzer fell hard for the food of Jalisco, capital of the Mexican state Guadalajara, when he moved his family to the region for a year. They ended up staying four years. The move struck a spark in him that became Provecho, which opened on September 1.
At Provecho, the focus is on the food of Guadalajara. The kitchen serves torta ahogada, drowning bolilo bread and pork in tomato sauce. It serves a robust beef birria that has a tingle of fall spices. It plates carne enseguida, the slow-simmered beef arriving with beans, and topped with bacon, cilantro, and onions.
Sprinkled through the menu, too, are favorites from beyond Guadalajara. Tacos. Esquites made from “just fresh corn, epazote, and a couple of peppers.” Aguachiles with lime-green sauce and gentle heat.
The height of this shipping-container-restaurant’s ambition might be its salsa bar. The salsa bar is outside, in the open, and at times is in the sun. Oberholtzer was insistent on having a salsa bar despite the heat. So he ordered a custom, double-insulated salsa bar. He and his cooks are constantly refilling the bar with ice.
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Ryan’s wife, Julie, also works in The Churchill. She runs Cosas, a shop that sells goods made by artisans in Guadalajara.
Though the horchata and aqua frescas look immensely refreshing in their plastic bags, you might want a drink-drink before your tres leches is gone. For that, look to the yellow stools of Pobrecito, a craft cocktail bar caddy-corner to Provecho.
Pina Colada or agua fresca, Provecho looks to be one of the go-to vendors in The Churchill.
Provecho. 901 North First Street.
Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to midnight; Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.