Odin Mezcalería opened earlier this year in the former Nido space near Jack London Square in Oakland. The owners, wife-and-husband team Silvia Hernandez and Cory McCollow, previously ran their restaurant for 10 years before remodeling and refocusing on all things agave. As such, you’ll find the plant in all its spirt-forward forms: from smokey mezcals to rarer raicillas and small-batch bacanora, they have it all.
On the food front, they’ve enlisted the help of Devin Gonzalez of Tacos El Precioso. “We wanted to give the kitchen reigns to someone else,” says McCollow. “We gave a new car with keys to somebody who makes food that we like and said ‘have at it.’”
Originally from Texas, Gonzalez has been cooking in the Bay Area for over a decade, spending time in fine dining restaurants like Michael Mina and high-end catering Stag Dining Group. These days, Gonzalez creates a menu featuring California seasonal Mexican food: “We do lots of guisados,” says Gonzalez. “It’s casera-style, our take on homestyle dishes.”
The below are five must-orders at Odin, dish by dish.
There’s guacamole, then there’s Tacos El Precioso guacamole, which is made from buttery Brokaw avocados (The French Laundry features these same avocados on their menu). The avocados are mashed and mixed with lime juice, onions, cilantro, garlic, salt, and bits of spicy chicharron. The entire thing is topped with a fiery salsa macha made from six different peppers, sesame seeds, onion and garlic. It’s served with larger pieces of chicharron as chips.
The bar at Odin is stocked, but narrowly focused: “Our bar only has agave,” says McCorrin. “No bourbon, no gin, no rum. We can’t make gin and tonics.” The bar is stocked with 300+ bottles of agave in all its forms; as such, a good way to start out is with a flight, which contains a trio of one-ounce pours. The flights change monthly and are selected by agave curator Hugo Gonzales.
Sometimes they highlight different states; other times they focus on producer, terroir, or type of agave.
The Batanga is a cocktail that has its origins in the town of Tequila in Mexico, appropriately enough. Simply consisting of Tequila, lime juice, and cola, it is said to have originated at a cantina called La Capilla (“the chapel”) in the 60s.
Odin’s version features a clear cola they make in-house, along with Tequila from fourth-generation family-owned distillery Cascahuin and is topped with a dehydrated slice of lime. “It’s a refreshing, light, easy-drinking introduction to agave,” says McCollow.
Casa Leal de Res
The Casa Leal de Res from Tacos El Precioso are beef tacos inspired by Gonzalez’ grandmother in Texas. For his version, he uses dry-aged beef tongue and suadero that he confits in beef tallow along with onions, garlic, and bay leaf.
“The mix together is really soft and tender and fatty,” says Gonzales. “The suadero gives it some meaty body — it’s almost like a thin brisket, and the lengua gives a deep rich flavor. There’s fattiness and richness in there as well.”
The meat is topped on beef tallow flour tortillas from local tortilla maker Xulo, topped with spicy tomato-morita pepper salsa and given a flourish of diced red onion and cilantro.
Spicy Tuna Tostada
The spicy tuna tostada is inspired by Bay Area pop-up Fish and Bonez: “They were helping when we first opened the restaurant, so as a nod to them, we put their tostadas on the menu,” says Gonzales.
It starts with housemade tortillas made from fresh masa from nearby tortilliera La Finca. It’s fried until crisp, then slathered with guacamole, and layered with spicy tuna marinated in tamari and sambal. The whole thing is garnished with tobiko for pop, basil and cilantro for a fresh layer, and topped with a bright green herb oil to finish.