The folks at Caucho — the hip taco joint and bar in the heart of New Bohemia in Cedar Rapids — want you to “feed your belly.” They’ve officially spent the last year — when they first opened their doors — making sure those who enjoy Central American cuisine can do just that.
The restaurant, owned by local food visionaries Andy and Carrie Schumacher, who also own Cobble Hill, plans to celebrate it’s anniversary this weekend with a festive affair. So get ready for some al pastor tacos, enchiladas in coloradito olé, pescado tacos, or chilaquiles — just a few of the most popular menu items, according to Chef de Cuisine Joshua “Tibbs” Tibbetts.
“This cuisine begs one to explore it,” said Tibbetts, who loves the challenges the kitchen at Caucho presents. “Central American cuisine stands apart from historical trends. It’s a crossroads of cultures that learned from each other and adapted together. And as a cuisine, as a system of techniques, it breaks all the rules taught in cooking school. You cannot make the molé, you make your molé.”
Front of House Manager Emily Qual’s experience interacting with customers over the last year at Caucho would give her reason to make two additions to the list of crowd favorites.
“I think two of the most frequent compliments I hear on the street are best guacamole and fantastic margaritas,” she said.
Qual said the drinks at Caucho are one-of-a-kind.
“Certainly, in the bar we are inspired by Central and South American cocktail traditions,” she said. “But beyond that, we like to find little ‘Caucho’ twists on classics or get inspired by a particular ingredient we want to make ourselves. Crafting a fantastic cocktail is one thing, but we are also drawn to ingredients with a story, a heart, a process.”
The same is true in the kitchen, said Tibbetts.
“Nobody in this kitchen is blindly following recipes,” he said. “At Caucho we try to respect and preserve the forgotten techniques that are rapidly being lost to automated fast food. Every day we question ourselves and our assumptions. Every day we try to do better. It’s a beautiful thing. That is the only tradition here. Learn, grow and adapt. Incorporate. We make everything from scratch, from whole ingredients. It’s not easy, it takes many hands, but I feel like it pays off.”
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Tibbetts fully admits the ingredients can sometimes be treacherous — those chilies really are quite hot. But he said the kitchen team works together not only as a team, but like family.
“On shift, we dance together. We laugh, we cry. But always we do it together,” he said.
Caucho staff members can hardly believe a year has passed since they opened their doors. Part of their recipe for success includes “the dedicated and smart-as-a-whip staff, the enthusiastic guests, the beautiful products we work with, Andy & Carrie’s zeal for their restaurants, and the magical space itself,” according to Qual. “We’re definitely excited to honor all the fantastic stories that we have been a part this year. Our guests celebrated baby showers and birthdays and engagements or just a good meal with us. We want to thank Cedar Rapids for that.”
“To see people supporting a local restaurant that breaks all the clichés, it’s really something else,” he said.
The anniversary “Par-TAY” on Friday (1/26) kicks off at 4:30 p.m. and the kitchen will be open late until 11:30 p.m. Qual said there will be door prizes every hour, drinks specials and their full menu will be available.
“DJ Expreso Ritmico with funky world grooves goes on at 9 p.m., and we’ll have a toast at 10 p.m.,” she said.
Guests are welcome to make reservations for any size party, but reservations are not necessary.
Where: 1202 Third St. SE, Suite 102, Cedar Rapids
Hours: 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 5 to midnight Friday and Saturday (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.)
Details: (319) 200-2525, cauchorestaurant.com
Year One Par-TAY: 4:30 p.m. to midnight Friday (1/26)