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Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by Robin Garr » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:08 am


Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

LEO's Eats with Robin Garr

The guacamole at the eponymous Guaca Mole.
Image

Here’s a memorable twist on an immigrant story: Havana-born Fernando Martinez has tried to get to America three times and made it twice. First, in the mid-1990s, he and his mother and a few friends tried to make their way from their native Cuba to the U.S. in a hand-built raft.

The Coast Guard sent them home, but they made their way back — with papers, this time — and, eventually, found their way to Louisville. With his Venezuela-born wife, Cristina, and his brother, Yaniel, they introduced Louisville to the joys of Cuban food with Havana Rumba in 2004, soon followed by the equally popular Mojito Tapas Restaurant.

But wanderlust called, and in 2009 they sold the restaurants to their partners and traveled around Latin America and Miami for a few years before coming back to Louisville -— third time’s a charm — in 2012.

Soon they opened Guaca Mole, and building on success - now incorporated as Olé restaurant group - they’ve added a half-dozen currently operating eateries, every one a local hit.

This month, I am joining with a group of Louisville food writers who have committed to celebrating some of the immigrant chefs and restaurateurs who have brought us so much culinary joy, it seemed right to return to Guaca Mole for dinner.

Forget your mental images of stereotypical Mexican eateries with fake sombreros and serapes on the walls. Guaca Mole’s decor is colorful and fun, bold Mexican-food colors of tangerine, avocado, red salsa and mustard, decorated with authentic Mexican pottery.

Guaca Mole’s dinner menu offers “Chefs Fernando and Yaniel Martinez's own spin on authentic Mexican food,” according to Guaca Mole’s social media. I can’t quibble with that: The flavors are authentic and the food is colorful, displayed with the fancy plating you’d expect at an upscale eatery. ...


Read the full review on LouisvilleHotBytes,
http://www.louisvillehotbytes.com/guaca ... n-delights

You'll also find this review in LEO Weekly’s Food & Drink section today.
http://www.leoweekly.com/category/food-drink/

Guaca Mole
9921 Ormsby Station Road
365-4822
http://guaca-mole-restaurant.com
https://facebook.com/GuacamoleLouisville
Robin Garr’s rating: 87 points
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by Jon K » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:11 pm

Great idea and a terrific choice for the first stop on this culinary tour of immigrant run restaurants.
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by Robin Garr » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:53 pm

Jon K wrote:Great idea and a terrific choice for the first stop on this culinary tour of immigrant run restaurants.

Thanks, Jon! Just for the record, though, last week was the first. :)

Mayan Cafe conquers boundaries with a world of good flavor
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by Richard S. » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:30 pm

I interviewed one of the people behind Proof on Main for a Business First story in 2006, before they opened (not a local, he was based in New York). He told me that back in the days of Grisanti's, they liked to hire Iranian students as waiters because help create an exotic atmosphere in the restaurant. After the fall of the Shah in the 1970s, many were either stuck here or elected to stay. Several parlayed that Grisanti's experience into restaurants of their own. Don't know how accurate that is, but it sounds plausible.
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by Ron Johnson » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:35 pm

and several of those Iranian alumni from Grisanti's went on to make their own mark on the Louisville restaurant scene . . .
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by Robin Garr » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:53 pm

Richard S. wrote:I interviewed one of the people behind Proof on Main for a Business First story in 2006, before they opened (not a local, he was based in New York). He told me that back in the days of Grisanti's, they liked to hire Iranian students as waiters because help create an exotic atmosphere in the restaurant. After the fall of the Shah in the 1970s, many were either stuck here or elected to stay. Several parlayed that Grisanti's experience into restaurants of their own. Don't know how accurate that is, but it sounds plausible.

Totally accurate. I've written about that at length in the past, based on interviews with Majid and others. It's a fascinating story, and it is true.
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by Robin Garr » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:55 pm

Here's the story, from a piece I did on the short-lived Majid's Buffet in 2006:

Iranians, in fact, occupy a surprisingly dominant position in Louisville’s restaurant business, and therein lies a story that goes all the way back to the 1980s, the Ayatollah and the hostage crisis.

Back in those days, Ghavami recalled, Louisville boasted a large and vibrant community of hundreds of Iranian college students, many of whom had come here to attend the University of Louisville and a few to Bellarmine. This Tehran-Louisville connection occurred for a surprisingly prosaic reason: Private firms in Iran’s capital handled college and visa paperwork for students who wanted to come to the U.S., and U of L, just going into a growth spurt, was particularly welcoming to foreign students. Majid and scores of his contemporaries descended on Louisville with delight, speaking little English but eager to discover the joys of bluegrass and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

A few years later, Iran’s revolution toppled the Shah. About half of the Iranian students rushed home to join in the battle, Majid said. He was learning about the philosophy of “a just war” in classes at Bellarmine, and Iran’s internal strife didn’t seem to pass the test. “My parents did not want me there, and I really, personally, did not believe in getting in a war.” He and many of his comrades stayed in Louisville and have been here ever since.

Most of them majored in engineering, medical science and business; Majid graduated in business and qualified as a CPA. But he, like a lot of his peers, ended up in the restaurant business instead. It happened simply, he explains: Away from home and family, they had to work for a living, and restaurant jobs are ideal for college students. The Iranians, tall dark and exotically foreign, were naturals at Italian restaurants, and many of them gravitated to Casa Grisanti, then one of the city’s top tables. Majid worked there and at Mamma Grisanti's and later at Vincenzo’s, rising from waiter to captain; took a break to work in accounting for a few years, then opened Saffron’s on East Market Street in 2001.

A few months later, 9/11 happened, and in the minds of some people, “Iran” became a dirty word.

“I looked at my large windows and worried that they would be shattered,” Majid recalled. “But instead, I got nice notes from people. They sent me flowers. Sure, you find pockets of ignorance anywhere you go, but Louisville? Louisville is unique when it comes to that. I have been here since the hostage crisis, and I have never experienced anything negative. Louisville doesn’t take it personally. They don’t hold it against you personally.”
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by RonnieD » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:11 pm

Guaca Mole is consistently one of the best and our favorites. Just top shelf level food and service every time. They've got a vegetarian dish that absolutely destroys the ridiculous notion that vegetarian dishes are bland and flavorless. I wish I could recall what it is. You'd think as often as we get it, I would know, but the food takes me to another plane of reality and this world just washes away...
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Head Cook, The Kitchen at Gerstle's Place
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by Jon K » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:58 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Jon K wrote:Great idea and a terrific choice for the first stop on this culinary tour of immigrant run restaurants.

Thanks, Jon! Just for the record, though, last week was the first. :)

I must be working too hard! :shock:
Mayan Cafe conquers boundaries with a world of good flavor
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by gregg.kramer » Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:54 pm

They're across the street from work. Sounds like a good excuse to go back again.
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Re: Guaca Mole soars over all walls with Mexican delights

by Robin Garr » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:52 pm

gregg.kramer wrote:They're across the street from work. Sounds like a good excuse to go back again.

If I worked across the street, I'd eat there a lot!

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