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El Patio opens in the Warehouse District

La Casita Taqueria’s owners open a new Mexican restaurant

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El Patio (845 Carondelet St., 504-302-1600; www.facebook.com/elpationola), a restaurant and bar from the folks behind La Casita Taqueria (8400 Oak St., 504-826-9913; www.eatlacasita.com), is open in the Warehouse District.

  The original La Casita location on Julia Street made a name for itself with happy hour specials and margaritas. That restaurant shuttered earlier this year, but the team is now back in the neighborhood in a much larger space. The two-story "Mexican Kitchen-Tequila Garden" has a large back patio.

  Proprietor John Michael Wade, who also runs La Casita Taqueria in the Riverbend neighborhood, opened the new restaurant.

  Helming the kitchen is chef Justin Bruhl, who worked at Compere Lapin, Maypop and several Mario Batali restaurants on the East Coast. Until recently, he ran the pop-up Matchbook Kitchen at Barrel Proof in the Lower Garden District.

  Bruhl's menu has snacks, tacos and small and large plates. Snacks, or aperitivos, include smoked whitefish with citrus-cured sheepshead cheese, avocado and a poblano aioli, and boudin balls made with chorizo verde, rice, and a smoked guajillo pepper jam. Tacos include a version with grilled octopus, lime-chili glaze, preserved lime and chayote slaw, beans and crema, and a smoked lamb barbacoa version with a mole negro, mezcal tomatillo salad and queso fresco. Larger plates include a grilled pork belly with trotter chochoyotes , chile verde and jicama and apple salad, as well as pan-seared drum served with snow crab coconut rice, avocado espuma, fermented mango and crab salad.

  The bar is stocked with a large selection of tequila and mezcal. Happy hour features half-priced small plates, tacos and drinks from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily.

  Wade says the upstairs space likely will be used for private events.

  El Patio opens at 3 p.m. for happy hour, and serves dinner and a late-night menu. Lunch service will be added later.

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