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The Blue Goose, Sprucing Up the Former Esparza's Space

[Avila, 6/12/14]

The dolls once hanging from the ceiling are gone; so are the red- and yellow-topped tables. Here now, a look inside the Blue Goose, a New Mexican-inspired restaurant that's taken over the space long home to Tex-Mex spot Esparza's, which closed earlier this year after nearly a quarter-century in business. But new owner Kristine Craine pays tribute to ghosts of the space's past: The name references Esparza's predecessor, a old-school tavern that apparently served nothing but hard-boiled eggs as bar snacks, while the Goose's current space reflects many of Esparza's Southwest elements. The turquoise-tiled bar remains, although booth tables have been replaced by wood versions, and more elegant high-tops are paired with dark wood stools. And the Goose menu also features tacos and margaritas, with a new emphasis on smoke and heat:

An opening-week menu was separated into sections for large plates and tacos, and the latter section offers a half-dozen pairs of tacos in house-made corn tortillas: fillings include smoked brisket with corn salsa and hatch chile aioli, carne adovada (a New Mexican pork stew with red chiles), and smoked chicken with shaved radish. Larger plates include stacked enchiladas with smoked chicken and cheese (topped with more hatch chile and a fried egg), a green chile cheeseburger, and a brisket plate with pork belly-braised Appaloosa heirloom beans. Unsurprisingly, the drink menu focuses on tequila and mezcal, with five margarita varieties (pineapple jalepeno, blood orange ginger) and four cocktails "with an agave twist."

The Blue Goose is open now. Hours of operation: 5p.m. to 10p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
· The Blue Goose [Facebook]