Iron Chef Garces Grand Opens Buena Onda with Giant Burrito Cutting

The new locations coming start with this first one in Rittenhouse neighborhood
Iron Chef Garces Grand Opens Buena Onda with Giant Burrito Cutting This Friday
Photo: DJ Torney
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Iron Chef Jose Garces officially begins the expansion of Buena Onda across the region and country with the grand opening of Buena Onda Rittenhouse on August 12th. Buena Onda is Chef’s famed taqueria that is inspired by the spirit and good vibes of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The new locations coming start with this first one in Rittenhouse neighborhood, at 114 S. 20th Street, and then next this fall in Radnor, at 200 Radnor Chester Rd. The original location in Fairmount (at 1901 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130) will also debut interior changes, expanded menus and more this week as well.

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For each location, Garces will offer Buena’s signature dishes such as environmentally conscious seafood tacos, classic tacos, Buena bowls, nachos, guacamole, chips and salsa, rice and beans, churros and many other offerings. Garces fans can also pair their favorite dishes with drinks that will include margaritas (classic, baja, frozen and seasonal), beer, wine, sangria, sodas and more.

Buena Onda Rittenhouse (when opened) and Fairmount will offer indoor dining, take-out and delivery, plus outdoor dining.

Longtime fans of Buena Onda can expect a stronger nod to the beachside surf shacks that the brand is inspired by, including dune fencing and a authentic “boardwalk” feel as guests queue to order; a lighter, whitewash wood feeling and nods to an “Endless Summer’ vibe throughout the interiors; the menu board features fish tacos, fresh house made guacamole and Salsa Mexicana, quesadillas, churros, and more; as well as the addition of a variety of grab and go items like freshly made salsa, salads, and aqua frescas with seasonal flavors. All new locations moving forward will feature alcoholic beverages but there will be no bar in the new concepts. There will be an emphasis on cans and bottles, including canned Buena Onda branded Margaritas in a variety of flavors like classic, strawberry, prickly pear, etc.

Buena Onda begins its regional and national expansion this Friday at 11:00am. That is the date and time the brand goes from the single location in Fairmount, to branching out across the region with Rittenhouse, then Radnor, then additional Philly region locations to come.

Buena Onda’s roots date back to 2015, when Garces launched his first-ever fast casual restaurant in Philadelphia, PA. At the time, Buena Onda represented the 19th concept for the growing Garces collection of restaurants. The menu was designed to be Chef’s ode to fish tacos and chill vibes, with inspiration taken from Baja peninsula’s culture, seafood shacks, and taquerías.

James Beard Award winner and Iron Chef Jose Garces teams up with Ballard Brands to expand Buena Onda from Philadelphia to cities across America. The baja-taqueria will see a major expansion with the launch of its comprehensive national franchise program. With one brick-and-mortar and up to four more on the way. Chef will team up with Ballard Brands, who are franchise veterans that own PJ’s Coffee, WOW American Eats and New Orleans Roast.

“From Philadelphia to America, I am thrilled to expand my baja-taqueria Buena Onda nationally through an exciting new franchise program,” said Chef Jose Garces in a statement. “Our team has worked hard at developing a national expansion strategy in partnership with Ballard Brands since the pandemic began. It has been great collaborating with them to bring Buena Onda and other concepts to new places and to reach new audiences. It is exciting to bring my recipes and vision to fans and foodies across the country. We just finished going through the franchising regulation work and we are now a national brand that I am proud to put my name on. I am excited about Buena’s possibilities and where this journey will take us next. The pandemic stepped in and took the wind out of our sails, but we reset ourselves, kept moving forward and we hope to announce our first franchise locations by the end of summer – if not sooner.”

“In all my years of franchising, I have never been more excited about the launch of a new concept as I am today with Chef Jose Garces and Buena Onda,” said Ballard Brands Chief Development Officer David Q. Mesa Jr., CFE. “What’s exciting about this concept is the merging of Chef Jose’s culinary expertise along with our proven franchise systems that allow it to be delivered at a high level in a very simplistic manner that allows creating the opportunity for franchisees, regardless of food experience, to explore their dreams of being in hospitality.”

“I’ve always loved the ocean, the sea air, the beach lifestyle,” added Garces. “Whether it was spending time on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador, or the Jersey Shore. These elements come together using the Buena Onda taqueria model as the vehicle to convey good vibes.”

Buena Onda and its story dates back to 2015, when Garces launched his first-ever fast casual restaurant in Philadelphia, PA. At the time, Buena Onda represented the 19th concept for the growing Garces collection of restaurants. The menu was designed to be Chef’s ode to fish tacos and chill vibes, with inspiration taken from Baja peninsula’s culture, seafood shacks, and taquerías.

From the early days to these new locations, Buena Onda continues to sustainably source fish in partnership with Seafood Watch. Buena Onda is also committed to playing an active and supporting role in all the communities where Garces operates. Twenty-five cents from every guacamole and bottled water purchase is donated to the Garces Foundation. Founded in 2012, the Garces Foundation is an IRS registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that raises funds to provide Philadelphia’s immigrant community access to the care and education they need.

Lisa Hay

Lisa is a staff reporter for What Now Media Group. She covers new restaurant, retail, and real estate openings across all of our markets. A true foodie, this Air Force veteran has lived all over the world — from Aviano, Italy to Nairobi, Kenya — but her favorite spot is NOLA for its rich history, architecture, culture, and of course, its good eats.
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