Known for his charismatic and warm personality, Chef Mimmo Alboumeh in January opened Botica (boh-tee-kah) specializing in Mexican and Spanish cuisine with homemade dressings, salsas, sauces, street-style tacos wrapped in a made-from-scratch menu.
Mimmo grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, Italy and Spain, and began his culinary career in Mexico. Some may remember his Red Pepper Taqueria on Piedmont Road at the Peachtree Road intersection. He also owned Maya Steaks & Seafood in Sandy Springs until 2017.
In the Buckhead Brookwood condo’s former Watershed’s space, Botica has 5,000 square feet of lively open indoor and outdoor ambiance with banquettes and single seating for 180, a private dining room and 40 high-definition flat screen TVs. Accordion doors open from the bar to al fresco dining for 100 on the 2,000-square-foot covered patio, with heaters, fans and a ringside seat to people watch on Peachtree. The 1,500-square-foot bar is the centerpiece.
Mimmo is proud that business is bustling. “It’s a blessing to employ 70 (45 front staff and 25 in the kitchen) during a pandemic. …. I work 100 hours a week here. ‘If you own it, you live it’ is my philosophy.”
When Mimmo talks about food, one can share his passion for it. Even down to the “migas” croutons, for which he greets the fresh ciabatta delivery at 5 a.m. to complement the grated Manchego cheese.
Street corn accompanies a lot of dishes. “We boil it, then char grill. Off the cob, it doesn’t get stuck in the teeth!”
What we sampled:
Tuna tartar appetizer ($13): truffle oil, plantain chips, avocado.
Green salad ($8): Generous portion of kale, spinach, migas, pickled onions, olives, goat cheese.
Favorite dish: The $4 tacos (soft or yellow corn tortillas) are a great deal as shareable and hand-crafted. Falafel is omnipresent on the Atlanta scene, but this is exceptional. Mimmo said, “I have a lot of Jewish customers who are allergic to fava beans originating from the Syrian and Egyptian recipes. I use a more Israeli recipe starting with double A quality chickpeas soaked over two days then rinsed with baking soda and water with more ‘Jewish Spanish’ spices. One of my favorites is Spanish paprika.” Interestingly, Genesis 3:3 warns against the ingestion of fava like beans for those of Mediterranean origin.
We also fought over the crispy fried fish taco with cabbage slaw and salsa cruda.
Bigger plate: Wild salmon ($17), quinoa, corn, herb vinaigrette, kale, spinach. Going easy on the salt let the fish do the talking.
Sides ($5): Generous portions of mac and cheese, street corn, mélange of mushrooms, cabbage slaw, Mexican rice, potatoes, poblano rice, black beans.
Desserts are also made in house. Mimmo’s favorite is the croissant bread pudding with pineapple and salted caramel gelato. Ours was the light yet rich strawberry vanilla flan.
Churros: Crispy dough with chocolate sauce round out the menu.
The Fajita Skillet combo looked enticing for the next visit.
Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with bottomless mimosas. Mimmo said, “Above the basic brunch staples, I craft each recipe and look for ways to combine heart and passion. Our locally sourced grits with specialty cheeses and a hint of pablano peppers are popular. On a nice day Botica serves 600 for brunch. The regular menu is also served until 11 p.m.
The restaurant’s art collection features whimsical pieces curated from Mexican artists. Mimmo’s favorite is Frida Kahlo, whose graphics he has brightly tattooed on his arms.
Since each dish is individually crafted, the staff will accommodate food allergies.
Note: A 20 percent service charge is added to each check.
The restaurant is located at 1820 Peachtree Road with free parking behind the building. It is open every day 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.