RICHMOND, Va. – Chef Danny Mena and Beverage Manager Lauren Spain recently opened Big Kitchen Hospitality’s new Conejo restaurant in Richmond, Va.
For Mexico City native Mena, Conejo is a chance for him to show off a side of his hometown that he finds underrepresented in many Mexican restaurants in the United States.
“Mexico City is very cosmopolitan. It’s not the typical idea a lot of people have of Mexican food. It’s a big city where there’s a lot going on. And that’s my influence,” he said. -he declares. “I’m a city boy, born and bred. And so that’s what we’re trying to bring [here]a modern take on traditional cuisine.”
Mena cooked at some top New York restaurants and opened two of his own (Hecho en Dumbo and La Loncheria) before being hired to run Conejo’s kitchen.
And in this kitchen, Mena said he and his team rely on quality ingredients.
“The quality of the meat we use, the quality of the ingredients we make is far superior [to many other Mexican restaurants]”, he said. “Thankfully we have the time, the effort, the knowledge and the resources to be able to do it.”
So what should you order on your first visit to Conejo?
“The best seller, and it is in all Mexican restaurants, is guacamole. People walk into a Mexican restaurant and before looking at a menu, they order guacamole and two margaritas, then look at the menu”, Mena said. “But really our best seller right now and it’s a Baja taco. It’s one of the ones we put on that we play with a lot. We use a fish called hake, which looks like cod, but it’s is a little firmer, but still nice and flaky. We make this batter with beer and vodka. So it’s kind of somewhere between like a Korean fried chicken beer batter and like Japanese tempura. So it’s crispy, it’s nice and light and flaky.
5820 Patterson Avenue
Richmond, Virginia 23226
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