I think fondly of past trips to Mexico, especially Playa Del Carmen, a wonderful city in Riviera Maya that embodies a stylish and sophisticated fiesta vibe (yes, parts are super touristy and cheesy but the gringo in me loves it all!). I enjoy reminiscing of evening al fresco dining with incredible seafood, steaks, tacos and washing them down with a tequila-based cocktail. But of course, Covid has stymied many of our south-of-the-border cravings for a year now.

The other day when I tried Botica, recently opened in Buckhead, I felt transported to an outdoor table on Avenida 10 with the same kind of energy, the fluorescent colors, "Dia de los Muertos" designs and the sweet smell of seafood cooking over charcoal in the Yucatan breeze. Translating as "small pharmacy" in Spanish, Botica now inhabits the former space of Watershed Buckhead, which, despite great cuisine from a number of talented chefs, never captivated the clientele enough to survive. This time I think they got it right.

Uber-talented Chef Mimmo Alboumeh most recently helmed Red Pepper Taqueria and before that Maya Steaks & Seafood so he knows how to please crowds. With the cuisine at Botica, Chef brings Spain (where he lived for years) and Mexico together with some next-level dishes and cocktails. Tuna crudo, grilled oysters, wagyu carpaccio, Spanish octopus and wild salmon are a few of the pretty plates that are yours for the taking, each Instagram-worthy and explosive with flavor. A massive Big Green Egg sits on the patio overlooking Peachtree Street, smoking fillings for the street tacos which include lamb, carne asada, grilled shrimp or even falafel (a nod to Mimmo's Lebanese heritage). This is not your traditional Tex-Mex, rather, a skillful fusion of classic dishes dolled up for primetime. For dessert don't skip on the croissant bread pudding with salted caramel gelato. And their Sunday brunch is quickly garnering an audible buzz including steak and eggs, breakfast burritos and salmon Benedict with your bottomless mimosas.

And naturally, the fiesta amps up with cocktails—their handcrafted drinks sourced from dozens of tequila choices (with 8 margarita varieties) are not only quenchingly delicioso, but also eye candy for the fun-crowd.

Botica's fun and lively atmosphere are a spectacular backdrop to Covid's denouement. The patio is bustling, and the rest of the restaurant oozes positive energy. For many who have been grounded by the pandemic but now are liberated, Botica is a perfect place to start the de-hibernation process.

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Let me know your favorite places to dine and dash off to. I am always looking for inspiration!

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