Bodega’s Service Industry Night a chance to feature local culinary talent

Sundays are similar to Fridays in the food service industry after crews survived the rushes of the weekend, said owner and chef of Bodega Tavern & Kitchen Adam Cavazos.

“We’ve worked the really hard shifts — Friday, Saturday (and) Sunday brunch,” Cavazos said. “Just as a tribute to the people in the industry, we decided to … offer really great deals on cocktails, a special bar-bites menu and then we bring in a band.

“It’s really turned into an event … (with) everything priced to move.”

Every second Sunday of the month, Bodega hosts Service Industry Night, which began with an in-house menu but evolved to feature guest chefs and bartenders.

Previous guests have included chefs and bartenders from spots like Motöramen, El Divino, Grain to Glass and the now-defunct Gamehaus Gastropub.

This Sunday will feature Gabriel Fuentes, the mastermind behind the food-truck-turned-restaurant, Nuri. David Hernandez, of Holiday Wine and Liquor, is behind the bar previewing a Nuri’s micheladas, clamatos and sake margaritas. DJ Love & Magick will provide the tunes.


Nuri was born a food truck. Fuentes purchase the old Mighty Truck vehicle to expand beyond his open-fire catering business. The fusion of Asian and Mexican flavors was something Fuentes said he experimented with, testing it on his friends.

One of Fuentes’ influences was Roy Choi of Kogi Korean BBQ, which is a brand of Korean-Mexican infused food trucks in Los Angeles.

“We wanted to do something different,” he said. “There are Koreans doing Mexican, but there are no Mexicans doing Korean.

“Let’s be the first.”

Nuri’s pork belly is roasted in Korean spice paste Gochujang and tangy, citrus-based sauce Ponzu. The menu features rice bowls and other fusion dishes not limited to a specific genre or classification.

Fuentes expects to add a few more tacos and salads — healthier options — to the menu soon.

“We’re just putting things together to see if they work,” Fuentes said. “If they work, then go for it.”

Their Texas Monthly-featured bestseller, the Nuri Taco, is homage to a dish Fuentes found in his wife’s hometown of Ciudad Valles in Mexico while visiting family. The taco includes steak, horizo, cheese topped with onions, cilantro and tomatillo on a fresh tortilla.

“I dream about that taco every day,” Fuentes said of the taco he blames for gaining 40 pounds. “I know our taco is one of the best, but compared that, you take my taco to a 5. That one is a 10.”

Nuri Tacos are on the menu for his Sunday takeover of Bodega. Customers can also expect cochinita pibil pork buns, slow-roasted in the traditional-Mexican fashion.

Black bean and edamame sopes, fried kimchi and dulce de leche-banana pie bites round off the selection.


Fuentes credits his family for the work required to jump from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

“When I tell the staff, my kids and my wife built this business, I’m not joking,” Fuentes said. “My 11, 10 and 5-year-old were there.

“We’re blessed.”

As a member of the local chapter of the Texas Chefs Association, Cavazos said it’s a privilege to be a part of the Rio Grande Valley culinary community. While the association has a mission of continued education, he sees his responsibility as also “propelling everyone forward, especially local businesses.”

Cavazos said the culinary scene is “still in its infancy,” and in future decades, people will look back at these homegrown spots.

“I think it’s really important that we highlight those people,” Cavazos said of local talent. “There is a food scene here. The chain restaurants are not the best restaurants that are out there.”

EVENT: Nudega Service Industry Night

WHEN: 7 p.m. to midnight Sunday, April 8

WHERE: Bodega Tavern and Kitchen, 2901 N. 10th St. Suite A/B