Childhood buddies Ari Demosten and Alex Kyriazis have always wanted to open up a bar and restaurant that was exactly where they wanted to hang out: An unpretentious neighbourhood spot with high polish, smart cocktails, killer eats, and a definitive cool factor. So they created Escobar, a Latin-fuelled concept sliding into the former Eastwood space on Fraser Street.
Escobar is what the business partners call "a new restaurant with an old school aim." The room is sleek and dark, with a mix of intimate two-tops for date night, or more expansive seating for an evening out with friends. The bar is the cornerstone, literally and figuratively, of Escobar. Those shelves behind the bar the team installed themselves; they've put a lot of their handiwork and heart and souls into this passion project.
This labour of love began for Demosten and Kyriazis with the bar, specifically their desire to create a space for cocktails to rival the acclaimed and progressive drinks scene in other cities like Toronto and New York. They brought on Bar Director Bobby Kordonis, who hails from Toronto, and most recently was behind the bar at Antler (you may better know the spot as "that restaurant where they butchered a deer in the window to tick off the vegan protestors").
Kordonis is the mind behind Escobar's exciting beverage program, which Kyriazis and Demosten say will be a true standout in Vancouver. Though they are thrilled to keep much of the details a surprise until opening day, the team hints at an expansive and innovative Gin & Tonic program, along with a slew of alluring cocktails (like a "Black Caesar") that allow Kordonis to show his skills and that pair with Escobar's food program.
Kyriazis says they are delighted to offer "a bar where the person behind the bar is equally as talented as your chef - a real artist," when it comes to Kordonis, and, for the food side, they've brought on Chef Sarah Kashani.
Kashani, a talented Vancouver restaurant vet, was most recently behind a key revitalization of Charlie's Little Italian cut short by the restaurant's shutter, and prior to that her own West Coast/Mediterranean venture, Invitro.
Tasked with using regional ingredients to power up pan-Latin fare to pair with Escobar's drinks (or to be enjoyed on their own or with beer or wine), Kashani has been given the reins in the small kitchen and has drawn inspiration from her own experiences as well as the vibrant flavours of Latin America and Spain to create her new signature dishes.
The menu is currently being finalized, but think lots of seafood, rich meats, and plenty of colour (Kashani's plates are always arrestingly beautiful); some confirmed dishes are Dry Rubbed Roasted Quail with Spicy Dark Chocolate Mole and Spanish Braised Baby Octopus.
Much like the cutting edge modern restaurants of Mexico City that focus on creative uses of the whole animal, contemporary techniques, and centuries of culinary tradition expressed with fresh, local, ingredients, the team at Escobar are hoping to give Vancouver a taste of something quite remarkable.
Though the crew takes their food, drink, and vibes seriously, they emphasize that Escobar is also very playful in nature. Take the name Escobar, for example. If you thought "Like Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar?" well, you would be right. They are indeed being cheeky and a bit flirtatious, by design, and deliberately provocative. Overall, the goal is to create a transportive experience--a slice of somewhere else right here in Vancouver.
Escobar is planning on a mid-May open, and will serve drinks and dinner from 4 pm until late, with plans to add in brunch service once they're up and running. Follow @escobaryvr on Instagram to get the latest on opening dates and more.
Escobar is located at 4245 Fraser Street.