Nearly 2 and 1/2 years after Old Pueblo Grille closed following a prolonged and tangled bankruptcy with former Tucson restaurant titan Bob McMahon, the sprawling 8,147-square-foot historic residence will be serving up the kind of fare you might find coming from your Mexican grandma’s kitchen.
On Monday, Jan. 15, Abuela’s Cocina Mexicana — a side project of Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ owners David and John Aldecoa and their childhood friend and partner, Jorge Alvarez — finally opened for business at 60 N. Alvernon Way.
“This is an old house from 50 years ago,” David Aldecoa said last Tuesday, days into the venture’s “soft” opening. They had the “open” sign on and served customers who came in last week as they ironed out the kinks, trained the staff and prepared for the official opening this week.
Aldecoa wouldn’t say exactly how much the trio spent to get Abuela’s open, but he pegged the cost in the six figures — far less than the $1 million-plus they invested to reinvent the old Wildcat House on North Stone Avenue into Brother John’s.
“It was a lot of work that had to be done. It took some time,” he said, noting that every time they figured they had fixed problems with the plumbing, flooring and other areas, they would find more issues after city building inspectors came through.
Abuela’s draws family recipes from Alvarez’s mother, Georgina, who works in the kitchen making the homemade flour and corn tortillas daily and oversees the execution of the recipes handed down by her mother and grandmother. Tacos are central to the theme, but you won’t find burritos or chimichangas on the menu, Aldecoa said. Seafood will have a starring role in a variety of ceviches, including the ceviche shrimp tostada.
“It’s not your typical Sonoran style Mexican food,” he noted, adding that they will incorporate a bit of Brother John’s smoked meats in some dishes.
The restaurant will feature a daily taco happy hour — $2.50 apiece — from 3 to 6 p.m. and a craft cocktails menu. Hours beginning Monday will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and until 11 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.