Chef Laila Bazahm proudly announced her newest dining concept, El Raval, now open at 1500 South Lamar Blvd. on May 12, 2023. Named after the neighborhood that captured Chef Bazahm’s heart when she lived and worked in Barcelona, El Raval will add the same vibrancy to Austin’s ever-growing multicultural culinary scene.
Chef Bazahm fell in love with El Raval when she was the chef and co-owner, with her wife Laura Freedman, of the Southeast Asian-Latin American restaurant Hawker 45. With its vibrant energy, rich history, and diverse cultural heritage, the Philippines-born Laila felt at ease wandering the streets of Joaquin Costa, seeking ingredients for dishes that reminded her of home. Finding pandan leaves, kaffir lime leaves, and fresh calamansi in the ethnic groceries gave her a sense of comfort, knowing that she could recreate the flavors of her childhood.
“El Raval is a neighborhood that celebrates diversity and cultural exchange. The different languages spoken on the streets, the various festivals celebrated throughout the year and the wide range of cuisines available all speak to its richness and complexity,” said Chef Bazahm. ”The restaurant will reflect the same excitement and be a place where people from all walks of life come together to create something unique and special.”
The 115-seat restaurant will feature a full-service bar and a cozy outdoor patio that reflects the bustling namesake neighborhood. The menu is divided into sections based on the character of each dish, whether it comes from the sea, the barnyard, or the garden, featuring both classic tapas like Gambas al Ajillo – red shrimp, garlic oil, chile de arbol, sherry; and Chef Bazahm’s unique creations like Cordero – a braised local lamb breast dish with Bengali kosho mangsho spices, pomegranate, and whipped fromage frais. Para Compartir highlights Chef Bazahm’s interpretations of Paella and other generously portioned dishes meant for sharing, including Arroz Negro y Uni – squid ink rice with cuttlefish ‘nduja relish and sea urchin; Costillas – 24-hour slow-cooked short rib served with a reduction of Catalan fricando stew, black garlic chutney, and parsnip puree; and Pollo a la Brasa – grilled chicken accompanied by carrots, French vadouvan masala, cardamom-sofrito emulsion, and green chili raita.
The bar menu is developed by Chef Bazahm’s friend, Moe Aljaff, founder of the famous Two Schmucks, a bar that Laila frequented and one that transformed Joaquin Costa into a hip cocktail destination.
El Raval will be open 4 – 10 p.m. Monday – Thursday, 4 – 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 – 9 p.m. Sunday.