Chef Henry Salgado is nothing if not pragmatic. “I try to use organic, local, and sustainable foods as much as possible,” he says, “though it doesn’t always work out.” Maybe that no-BS attitude is the product of 15 years spent running the wildly successful Spanish River Grill, the bustling New Smyrna Beach mainstay he owns with his wife, Michele. But don’t mistake practicality for a lack of passion – Salgado has based his new venture, Txokos Basque Kitchen (that’s pronounced “cho-kos”) on the private Basque dining societies known as txokos, and one senses the same gastronomic zeal just under the surface with this chef. However, Salgado’s new baby is no solemn gathering of culinary showoffs. “I don’t really want to teach, but rather enlighten guests so that they leave knowing traditional food can be delicious, beautiful and hip.”
When we ask him what he wants guests to know before they sit down at his table, he proclaims, “They don’t really need to know anything other than how to eat! They’ll need to bring an empty stomach as well.” With a menu jammed full of Spanish specialties like Manchego and figs with sherry, stewed piment d’Espelette chilis and baby squid stuffed with chorizo, that’s sound advice.
3201 Corrine Drive, 321-972-8852; $$$$