In Japan, the most important Shinto holy site is rebuilt every 20 years, so Ise Shrine is either 2000-years-old or two-years-old, depending on how you count.
The purpose of the ritual is to nurture traditional construction methods that might otherwise be forgotten, which is perhaps a slightly loftier motive than the reasons for Minero’s recent recreation: In the local case, the Mexican restaurant wanted to accommodate bigger bar crowds and make room for Sean Brock’s next restaurant, rumored to be a burger joint.
But the overhauls aren’t totally dissimilar, either: The new Minero is in essentially the same place as the old Minero, albeit on the second floor, and it’s supposed to encompass the same spirit as the restaurant’s first incarnation. Judging from a quick weekend visit, it’s set to succeed on that score.
Minero 2.0 is undeniably bigger. Its seating capacity has doubled to 90, including a significant number of seats at the bar. While it perhaps surrendered a smidge of charm with the expansion, the restaurant was ready to grow: From the start, its bar has produced excellent cocktails, but the crowds kept most people from considering Minero as a place to drop by for a drink. And I always had to remember to mention peak time lines when sending visitors and locals to Minero, the only Sean Brock restaurant in the world where two people can dine for 30 bucks (Minero currently has two locations: There’s also an outlet in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market.)
At the new Minero, the ceiling is higher and the weathered church pew-style seating in the old Minero’s front room have been replaced by tidy wooden benches upholstered with candy-striped cushions. The most obvious change is the addition of two televisions above the bar, meant to help cement Minero’s status as a game day destination.
With the move upstairs, Minero also introduced a weekday happy hour, featuring $5 chicken wings, guacamole and queso fundido, along with discounted beer, wine and tequila shots, and Sunday brunch. Since my standby order at Minero is chilaquiles, I was eager to check out the brunch menu.
The choices include a breakfast burrito; shirred eggs with roasted mushrooms and pumpkin; steak-and-eggs with sopes and ranchero sauce; chicken fried chicken and French toast with grilled bananas. There’s also an infladita al pastor, which is basically a hoppin’ John-supported fried tortilla piñata, filled with a luau-like blend of grilled pork and pineapple and topped with pale scrambled eggs, avocado and crema.
Located at 155 East Bay St., Minero is open Sun.-Thurs. from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Happy hour runs from 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., and the Sunday brunch menu is served from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, call 789-2241 or visit minerorestaurant.com