Ocho1.jpg
Ocho is not a dim bar. It's not a shady place. It's just plain dark--candlelit and shadowed, rich with velvet blackness and filigrees of gilt--and

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Cold Beers and Killer Tapas at Ocho

Ocho1.jpg
Ocho is not a dim bar. It's not a shady place. It's just plain dark--candlelit and shadowed, rich with velvet blackness and filigrees of gilt--and coming through the door on a good night is like walking straight into a wall of noise. The music is loud, coming from a stereo behind the bar tuned to a pure Nick Hornby station. I don't recognize a single song, but I like every single one of them.

Because of the music, the people are loud, having to shout over the droning sad-bastard keyboards and thrumming bass; to lean close and bellow across tables no bigger than two chess board pushed together. When they laugh, they laugh loud--braying in a forced timbre, a crossing vector of strong drink and honest joy.

The plates are loud. The silver is loud. The walls, when everything hits the right, frantic frequency, seem to reverberate with sound like a nightclub's: bouncing back drum fills and moaning singers, voices, shouts, scraping flatware, everything. And in moments of strangely synchronized quiet--in the gap between one song and another, the space of a breath between outbursts--all that noise seems to live in the walls, just waiting to spill forth.

In case you couldn't guess, this week's review is of Ocho--the Ballard tapas bar opened by Gelsey Hanson and Zach Harjo two years ago, now run solely by the latter. Harjo is probably best known for the turn he took behind the bar at La Carta de Oaxaca around the corner, so it's no surprise that the long oak at Ocho is a draw for those requiring a bit of liquid fun on a Friday night. But the kitchen, too, is staffed with some real talent--enough that I want to go back right now, camp out by the front door and wait for the start of happy hour because I'm kinda hungry and would really like some albondigas and croquetas to take the edge off.

And you, you lucky little buggers, get to read all about it tomorrow when the new issue hits the stands. Then, after reading about it, I hope you go there, spend ridiculously tiny amounts of money on way too many plates of food, have two drinks too many from the bar, and go stumbling out again into the darkness, wondering how you managed to spend four hours inside when, really, you'd just been looking to stop in for a little snack.

The new issue will be on the streets tomorrow, full of all the usual suspects. And in the meantime, good on ya for finding your way to the Voracious blog. We're here all the time with your recommended daily allowance of food industry gossip, news, reviews, opinions, rants, screeds and strangeness. It's what we do. For some of us, it's all we do.

Which means that some of us (read: me) really need to find a hobby or something...

 
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