"It would have been easier and cheaper to bulldoze the building," co-owner Patrick Stamper says of the former auto shop and adult bookstore about to open as En Su Boca.
The taqueria took far longer to complete than Stamper and partner Randy O'Dell of Bellytimber expected. But the results at 1001 N. Boulevard make a splashy, mural-covered destination for daily and nightly Mexican street food.
Look for San Francisco chef and co-owner Eric Stangerone's tortas, churros, burritos and tacos, named to poke fun at the building's former function.
Mucho taco: After a stealth opening near Regency Square last week, Boka Kantina and Catering now serves weekday lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1412 Starling Drive. Owner Patrick Harris brings the expanding Boka fusion-food brand to its first fixed location as a catering hub and flavor laboratory for signature tacos and changing chef's specials. Dinner hours are coming later. bokatruck.com.
And South Siders have discovered Pepe's, the newest incarnation of a former Indian and Mexican restaurant at 9550 Midlothian Turnpike. The dining room is rustic and casual, servers are friendly, and the menu holds some unusual burrito options such as potato casserole with black beans, avocado, smoked Gouda, zucchini, spinach and sriracha sauce; it's served with a seasoned fruit salad. The Chesterfield burrito has slow-cooked pork, black beans, chorizo and chipotle sauce, also in the $12 range. Lunch combos are $5-$6, margaritas are on special Wednesdays, and house-made chips, salsas and sauces show finesse with ingredients. Lunch and dinner are served Monday through Saturday. 272-0920. pepesva.com.
Between the buns: Burger lovers have reason to live it up June 24-30, as Style Weekly launches the first RVA Burger Week. Burgers of all descriptions are $5 each, and 27 restaurants are participating, with gifts from Amstel Light adding to the appeal.
Look for featured burgers with signature ingredients at 3 Monkeys, Bellytimber Tavern, Buddy's, Burgerworks, Cary Street Cafe, Carytown Burgers & Fries, Commercial Taphouse, Curbside Cafe, Kitchen 64, Legend Brewing Co., The Magpie, Mojo's, Mosaic, New York Deli, On the Rox, Phil's, Popkins Tavern, Portrait House, The Savory Grain, Sidewalk Cafe, Siné, Star-lite, Station 2, Continental Westhampton, the Grill at Libbie and Patterson, The Well and Uptown Alley, each with a different take on burger creations.
Taking over from Sally Bell's and other previous vendors at Byrd Park's Fountain Lake, Croaker's Spot Express is a new concessionaire. Owner Kevin Anderson says the famous Croaker's fish boats soon will get competition from a few variations on oysters. Vegetarian options include portobello and veggie burgers. Wraps, hot dogs, snacks and ice cream are in the $5-$8 range, with call-ahead catering and boxed meals. Open daily from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. with live jazz Sunday afternoons. Pedal boat rentals on the lake are $12 per half-hour, with the same schedule as the concession stand. 501 S. Boulevard. 353-1717.
Sugar Shack Donuts finally got its OK to open, and sold 500 doughnuts in the first hour of business last week. Manager Alex Palma says toasted coconut and traditional raised doughnuts were early top sellers, with milkshakes and coffee also popular. Some customers were in line at 5:30 a.m. for the opening day Tuesday. Serving weekdays 6 a.m.-6 p.m., weekends 8 a.m.-6 p.m. 1001 N. Lombardy St. 278-5900. sugarshackdonuts.com.