La Reforma Brewery officially opens today (Monday) at 8900 San Mateo Blvd. NE, but a few of us in the industry — or industry adjacent — were invited to a soft opening Friday night.
While I am perfectly comfortable reviewing the beer the general setup of a new place, I am quite possibly the worst person imaginable to review authentic Mexico City-style food, mainly due to a specific allergy. With that in mind, I brought along my friends Dan and Erin, both of whom took a vacation to Mexico City back in March.
First up, the space is both the same one you were used to with Bosque being there, but also there are subtle changes. The bar is still up front, but the tables have been changed around to have a more personalized dining experience (no more community tables). The TVs are still up there on the wall, but we forgot to ask co-owners John Gozigian and Jeff Jinnett if they will be showing soccer games in the future. We will let them announce watch parties online.
The initial beer lineup had three of the four beers available for us to try. La Ref Lager, Maximillian (Dunkel), and Turbia Hazy IPA were ready, with Hi-Wit (Hibiscus Belgian Wit) not quite ready for us, but it will be on tap today. There are also a Michelada made with the La Ref, Bosque guest taps (see our previous story as to how Bosque and La Reforma are sharing the brewery), and six cocktails made with the spirits distilled on site.
We each ordered a flight of the three beers, with Dan and Erin opting for Micheladas, then a cocktail each, before Dan switched to a lager to finish and Erin had one more cocktail. They mostly just made yummy sounds when it came to the Micheladas and cocktails, which were also at many of the other tables around us.
My own take on the beers was that the La Ref was quite the standout. It tastes like a high-end cerveza, with the Tettnanger hops and corn sweetness combining for quite the sweet beer. At just 4.8-percent ABV, it hits the spot without leaving you too loopy.
The Maxmillian (5.5% ABV) is a Munich-style dunkel. It is a solid beer, but could use a little more flavor. Franz Solo is our resident German beer expert, so at some point I will need to utilize his palate to figure out exactly what is missing with the Max, but if anyone else out there wants to try it and let us know your opinion, please do so.
The Turbia (7.2% ABV) is neither too juicy, nor too hoppy. It ends up somewhere in the middle, with even the non-IPA fans at the table enjoying it. We will see what the haze-heads think of it, as I could see the recipe changing based on their whims to either juicier or hoppier.
Now, as for the food, here are the quick reviews that Erin emailed over shortly before slipping into a food coma at home:
- The jalapeño “salsa de Lupe” was reminiscent of the purest CDMX flavors. This particular batch was also hot enough to knock you on your ass before you even threw a punch.
- The carnitas burrito was so packed full of flavorful ingredients that we didn’t even have room in our stomachs for the tacos we ordered. But, I have a feeling they will be amazing on the re-fry!
- If you’ve never had true Mexican-style quesadillas, do yourself a favor and order them here. You’ll never want to order Americanized quesadillas ever again for fear of utter disappointment.
- The “El Tri” was a refreshing summer cocktail that was deceptively … alcoholic. The Michelada was spot-on. The crisp, bright lager was a flawless base that complemented the michelada mix all too well.
We also need to point out that our server was excellent (we made sure to tell her bosses), and the service overall for a brand-new brewery/eatery was impressive. As always, please be patient as some kinks will still need to be worked out here and there, especially when things get really busy at peak hours. The good news is that the owners are not new to any of this, so they should be able to straighten things out in a hurry and have La Reforma operating like a well-oiled machine in record time.
A big thanks to John and Jeff for the invitation, and to Erin and Dan for coming along to be my official food tasters (they have volunteered for future missions as well).