This evening I got the opportunity to sit down with Jay Farias, owner of Bandolero in Tangletown, and talk tequila for a while.
If you haven’t been there yet, Bandolero is a new Mexican restaurant in Tangletown. It stemmed from it’s previous occupant – The Pour House – when they tested out a “Taste of Mexico” menu that became permanent almost as soon as it started. The restaurant focuses on delicious entrees cooked up by chef Rochelle Sems, and a love of all things tequila.
I asked Jay a little more about the 60 tequilas they carry and serve – in my own experience, tequila is either something that you shoot down quickly (and try not to bring back up), or stick strictly in a margarita. “Drinking tequila is like drinking Scotch,” Jay told me. There are three main types of tequila – blanco, reposado, and anejo. Blanco is the stronger, harder-to-swallow stuff. But, Jay says, “I would never shoot reposado or anejo.”
In fact, Jay told me, sipping tequila can be a lot like a wine tasting – the way the tequila turns out has a lot to do with how the blue agave (the plant that makes tequila) is grown and environmental factors such as soil quality and elevation, just the same as with grapes for a good wine.
Bandolero offers a Tequila Club, where you can earn discounted drinks for sampling the various tequila, as well as get your name on a brick on the wall for eventually drinking all 60. The club has almost 200 members already and Jay is always on the lookout for more tequila varieties to add to the menu. But he reminded me, “It’s a journey, not a race.” No one has yet sampled all 60, although several members are close.
In the good spirit of the moment, I did sample a tequila – the Casa Noble reposado – and was surprised that I could swallow it without needing to down a half a glass of Coca Cola afterwards. The Casa Noble was aged 364 days – the longest it can be to still be considered a reposado.
Enough fun and back to business – I asked Jay what he wants people to think of when they think of Bandolero. “Community – Tequila – Food – in that order.” Although tequila is an important part of the business, his main focus is on getting to know the people who come in, and being a staple in the neighborhood. Bandolero is even teaming up with Fremont Brewing Company for an event on December 15th benefitting the Wallingford Boys and Girls Club (stay tuned for more details). Jay is a north Seattle resident himself and understands the importance of supporting local businesses and organizations.
So where’s Jay when he’s not chatting with patrons at Bandolero? He keeps it local in Tangletown and loves visiting Leny’s Place and the Elysian. There’s nothing I love more than seeing local business owners visit other local businesses!
I’m joining the tequila club. Don’t ask me how I’m going to stomach the stronger blancos (Jay said I can drink some of them in a mixed drink and it will still count), but one day, I plan on having my name on a brick. Check back with me in a year! And if you’re considering stopping in to Bandolero but don’t know where to start – look for Jay. He’ll point you in the right direction on the menu and make sure you have a great experience.