Oaxaca and El Valle owner to open Casa Balam in Decatur and Dixeebe in Midtown

At Casa Balam, expect family-style dishes from northern Mexico in the former Ted’s Montana Grill space

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Inside Casa Balam

Courtesy of the Cocktail Shaker

Chef Luis Damian, one of the owners of Oaxaca in Chamblee and El Valle in Midtown, has multiple new restaurants in the works. First to open—likely the second week in April—will be Casa Balam, replacing Ted’s Montana Grill in Decatur. Focused on dishes from the northern side of Mexico near Monterrey, Casa Balam will serve shared plates and sous vide cocktails in a casual environment designed for families. Targeting a late April launch, Dixeebe will take over the former Tapa Tapa space in Midtown Promenade. It will offer Peruvian-Mexican fusion and mezcal-based cocktails. A second location of El Valle is also in the works—this one in Brookhaven. Look for it to open in the fall.

Short rib beef birria with fresh tortillas

Courtesy of the Cocktail Shaker

Casa Balam

Though both Oaxaca and Casa Balam feature “from-scratch” kitchens, Casa Balam strives to offer more approachable fare. “Decatur is a family-oriented neighborhood. We want to be part of that community,” says Damian, who is opening the restaurant with partners Jay, Harry, and Neil Patel. “Oaxaca is super traditional (spicy). Casa Balam’s salsas will be different—we will tone it down a little here.”

Serving dinner and weekend brunch, Casa Balam will feature guacamole, queso fundido, empanadas (carnitas, beef birria, and duck confit), as well as ceviches, salads, and tostadas. Sold in pairs, taco varieties include cochinita pibil (marinated pork roasted in a banana leaf), steak al pastor, carne asada, and mushroom. Chargrilled meat and seafood entrees come with house-ground corn tortillas. “As Mexicans, we’re carnivores, so we like meat,” Damian says. A children’s menu will offer smaller portions of chicken, steak, and fish with rice and beans. For brunch, expect masa pancakes, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and more.

The Hot Primavera cocktail is made with rum, Velvet Falernum, lime, aromatic bitters, and Pajote white guava.

Courtesy of the Cocktail Shaker

Beverage director Jennifer Smith created the cocktail list, featuring drinks with sous vide alcohol, such as tangerine mezcal. Of course, margaritas, mimosas, and Bloody Marys will also be available. The wine menu steers Mexican with some Latin American, Spanish, and U.S.-based pours. Beer connoisseurs should be happy with the draft options—both local and Mexican.

The 120-seat interior was completely renovated in a contemporary fashion. Damian says the new hand-painted wall textures are reminiscent of an old Monterrey hacienda. “Ted’s was super dark and had lots of walls,” he says. “You won’t recognize the building.” A 30-seat patio offers al fresco dining, and reservations are encouraged.

Guacamole

Courtesy of the Cocktail Shaker

Dixeebe

Over in Midtown, Dixeebe will be a mezcaleria with a speakeasy vibe. The name is a salute to the past, present, and future in the native Oaxacan language Zapotec. Damian hired Dan Hokama as chef de cuisine. Hokama recently moved to Atlanta from Peru, after studying in Japan. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Peruvian food, and Peru is heavily influenced by the Japanese,” Damian explains.

As such, Dixeebe will serve seafood like aguachiles and hamachi and sea urchin tostadas, along with sushi rolls and Mexican bar food (think taquitos). Mixologist Diego Camarena will prepare classics like mezcal sours and pisco sours. Sake will be served, too.

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