It’s hard to miss the brilliant blue glow of this polished little wine bar on a walk through Centro, sitting just off Ignatio Vallarta two blocks past the Rio Cuale bridge. Almacen opened its doors recently to replace a lost local favorite, so the pressure was certainly on for the newcomers to deliver…takes more than a pretty neon sign to make an impression on me.
Take it from a guy who wears face paint: what’s inside has to be the best part, or else.
The Vibes: Almacen has a flavor all its own in the area, combining the extensive spirit selection of a true cocktail bar with the intimate allure of an after- hours lounge. The bar area strikes a delicate balance between urban and urbane, trimmed in wood with a backdrop of brick and bedecked with bottles and books because a life without either lacks its full luster.
The downtempo playlist and open air wine garden area made an ideal setting for compelling conversation, so it’s a fine place for wine and great for a date. Stylish without being stuffy, a bit buttoned up, but not quite to the top of the neck…it’s a perfect place to write all your plans in pencil and let the night take the wheel. I, concordantly, can dig it.
The Vices: For me, a steaming plate fresh from the kitchen is the most effective advertisement an eatery can employ. Reading a list of ingredients from a menu is one thing, but there’s something about the sight and scent of something truly delicious that makes it real, like running your fingers over a cashmere sweater as opposed to clicking it.
This is how I was introduced to the D’Evil Member, a perfectly medium lamb patty topped with goat cheese along with gouda, roasted peppers, and two crispy golden onion rings. As it floated by on ceramic wings, the entire physical world melted away around me and there was nothing on this plane of existence but a single sandwich and a hungry human. I had to have it.
Talking myself out of tackling the server and gleefully claiming some poor patron’s meal under traditional monkey rules, I ordered one for myself when it was our table’s turn.
The orders came, and just as I seized upon my prey my esteemed colleague Rachel suggested that we do a split-and-share for sampling purposes. Internally, I cursed her name with the fury of one thousand Suns, but in the spirit of workplace harmony the trade was made.
It was a damn good decision, as her choice was the BB Killer, a beef burger with gouda and onion rings along with bacon and homemade bbq sauce. Gotta love a good twist on a classic.
For the sake of journalistic integrity, I must mention that a miscommunication somewhere in the chain of demand on my second visit meant that I got the Gourmet Burger, a beef patty with the traditional fixings along with fried organic eggs, instead of Mary’s worst nightmare.
It was the evening of the 17th and I’d had a few brews, so I’m just going to chalk that one up to my festive accent.
In any event, I do well in this line of work because of my open- ness to experience, so I took the opportunity to get further acquainted with their menu, and it did not disappoint. I also learned egg yolk is a worthy condiment for french fries, and learning is always beneficial.
It’s fine, just means I’ll have to go back again for it. Yes, I am accepting condolence cards.
The Verdict: With a lineup of signature drinks like the Magenta Bloom and Red Rose Vertigo and a well-executed menu, this hideaway in the heart of the city is very much worth your time. Almacen Cocktail styles itself as a secret spot for the scene-savvy, and with its late night hours you could find dinner and drinks turning into so much more.
Maybe I’ll catch you there.