Tacoma’s Cuerno Bravo, a high-end Mexican steakhouse, is opening
Cuerno Bravo Prime Steakhouse, the upscale Mexican-themed steakhouse and sibling restaurant to Asadero Prime, will open soon in Tacoma’s St. Helens neighborhood. UPDATE: Please note this restaurant opened briefly before the pandemic, and then closed temporarily. It is now operating and open for dinner service as of September 18, 2020.
If all goes as planned, chef-owner David Orozco said March will see the opening of the steakhouse that will serve prime steaks cooked in a charcoal-fueled oven.
For those not familiar, Asadero is a prime steakhouse with locations in Kent and Ballard. Orozco describes his restaurants as “steakhouses from a Mexican point of view.”
Orozco said his Tacoma project will stray a bit from the Asadero Prime theme, starting with the name.
CUERNO BRAVO PRIME STEAKHOUSE
“We went with a different name because it’s a different vibe. It’s a little more dark and intimate, a little more for adults who want to have steaks and have fun. They can hit up McMenamins after, or go to the theater before or after,” described Orozco. “I’d describe it as smart-casual with a little party vibe.”
He said he’s still studying Tacoma’s dining needs, but he hopes to be a good companion to the neighborhood. His date-night destination sounds as if it will fit in quite nicely.
Right there in the Triangle neighborhood is Over The Moon, arguably Tacoma’s most romantic restaurant, and Devil’s Reef, the nautical-themed cocktail lounge that’s a regional destination for its dark and delicious tiki drinks. Stink Cheese + Meat and its companion wine bar El Tufo are steps away, as is the lively Red Star Taco Bar. There’s also McMenamins close by, as well as Tacoma bar-scene favorites, The Mix and Puget Sound Pizza.
Like Asadero Prime, Cuerno Bravo will be a prime steakhouse – with a killer grill.
The kitchen’s showy high-end Josper oven imported from Spain and fueled by charcoal, will be a display oven in a theater kitchen that will be visible from every seat in Cuerno Bravo. “Even from the window outside on the street, you’ll see the fire,” he said.
HEAVY-DUTY COOKING ON A JOSPER
Jospers anchor the kitchens of some of the country’s finest restaurants. Orozco said some of his cooks are intimidated by it because it’s such a beast and burns so much hotter than anything chefs normally use. “The ventilation system is a monster,” he said.
“They look at it (the Josper) and scratch their heads,” said Orozco. “We’re doing something very unique. Our kitchen will be the only one of its kind in the Puget Sound.”
Although the restaurant is a prime steakhouse with elaborate plating and fussy cocktails, it won’t carry a prime steakhouse pricetag, much like its sibling restaurants known for delivering high quality at a very fair price. At Asadero Prime in Ballard, a 14-ounce prime ribeye from Niman Ranch recently was listed at $28.99. That’s a stellar value for that cut. Expect the same category of pricing in Tacoma.
“My steakhouse is an interpretation of what I wanted to eat when I was younger and had no money,” said Orozco. He wanted to build a menu around high-quality steak that beef aficionados would revere, but also wouldn’t price out somebody like Orozco in his earlier life. “I never wanted to open a steakhouse where somebody could afford to go there only once a year or for very special occasions,” he said. “This is an accessible restaurant for every pocket.”
Aside from steak and the house specialty of carne asada Wagyu, his restaurants feature casual fare, such as tacos in the $16.99 to $17.99 range and torta sandwiches around $15.99 (those are all made with prime beef, as well). Asadero restaurants also offer splurge steaks, such as an A5-rated Wagyu Japanese ribeye listed on a recent menu at $59.
Orozco described his new Tacoma restaurant as inspired by his love for food and his travels. His style of cooking reflects Northern Mexico’s method of mesquite-grilled meat.
“It’ll have more energy than a typical steakhouse with a piano bar,” he said. “It’ll be vibrant, with a real energy.” (read: not stuffy).
The dining room will seat around 85. Twenty of those seats will be at a bar that runs most of the length of the space. Wooden booths flank the opposite wall. That giant Josper is at the back of the dining room. There’s a pass-through to the bathrooms with an area that has room for expansion. In that space, Orozco said he’s considering adding a raw bar with ceviche and oysters, but not until well after opening.
Children will be allowed at Cuerno Bravo, but Orozco described a menu and atmosphere leaning more toward grown-up dining.
In the beginning, Orozco said he’ll focus on a smaller dinner menu and happy hour service while he and the kitchen staff figure out the temperamental behavior of the Josper oven. “My target right now is a super great happy hour with everything well priced. My food cost is going to be insanely high, but I want to build some support.”
After the restaurant gets its legs, he will expand the menu. “Later, we’ll roll out a menu similar to Kent and Ballard,” he said. Later on, he does have plans to add lunch, as well.
CUERNO BRAVO PRIME STEAKHOUSE
Where: 616 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma
Facebook page here
UPDATE: The restaurant is now open and operating for dinner service as of September 18, 2020.
RESTAURANT TIP: PHILLY CHEESESTEAKS ARE COMING TO LAKEWOOD
TIP: There’s a restaurant opening this week you need to know about. Go Philly, the Tacoma cheesesteak restaurant, is expanding to Lakewood. Read about it here.