Chef Helio Bernal started the Real Mexican Vittles pop-up in 2017, earning a following for his tacos and tamales served at festivals and breweries around town. Three years later, he’s expanding his reach with a brick-and-mortar restaurant called D Boca N Boca. Located in Summerhill (39 Georgia Avenue), it will feature Mexican cuisine inspired by Bernal’s family roots in Veracruz and the Yucatan peninsula. It is slated to open in April.
“TRMV is street food,” he says. “D Boca N Boca is about all the regions of Mexico influenced by my grandmother’s traditions. There will be ceviches, ribeye aquachiles, seafood, and [it’ll be] strong on the meat side.”
Bernal hired chef Adi Komic—formerly of Superica and Pure Taqueria—to lead the kitchen. Komic says the menu will feature a lot of small plates. He calls out enfrijoladas (a lasagna-like dish with chicken, crema, cheese, refried beans) and relleno negro (a Yucatan dish made with slow-charred peppers and vegetable paste with braised turkey and boiled egg).
There will be vegetarian and vegan options, too. These include handmade vegan chorizo and sikil pak—a Mayan dip made from pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Tamale fillings will be based on seasonal availability but may include beans and squash, peppers and mushrooms, and chicken.
“Everyone loves tacos, so we’ll obviously have those, but we want to focus on more historical techniques of Mexico,” Komic says. “Helio’s family has Spanish Creole roots in Veracruz. It’s the biggest port city. They also have Yucatan roots, so we’ll have the Mayan indigenous influence. That means cooking with coals for deep fire roast flavors. We want to tap into that to give people a sense of Mexican food they never tried.”
D Boca N Boca will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. It may offer a stripped-down menu late at night, too. For breakfast, Komic says to expect fried egg on fried tortilla, chilaquiles, chorizo con huevo, and machaca con huevo (made with pork or dried beef).
With a name that alludes to a licking your lips, D Boca N Boca is designed to have a “chic lifestyle Bohemian vibe,” Bernal says. It’s located in a 100-year-old building with a brick interior. There will be a lot of greenery, Edison lights, high-tops and communal tables, and neon lips on the wall outside. A tortilla-making station will be a focal point of the restaurant, Bernal says. The patio will seat 50 people.
The bar program will focus on small batch mezcals and tequilas. “We want it to feel like you went to Tulum,” Bernal says.
“We want to get creative,” Komic adds. “Everyone knows margaritas and palomas. I want to incorporate masa flavors and use the ingredients from Oaxacan mole.”
D Boca N Boca will also serve Mexican-style beers from local breweries such as Scofflaw and Arches, as well as Dos Equis and Modelo. Wines will lean Spanish and South American.
Fans of TRMV need not worry—Bernal will continue to offer the brand’s tacos at pop-ups around the city. He’s even in talks about franchising it in Miami.