Casa Verde has only been open a couple of weeks, but it's already drawing a large nightly crowd on Jamaica Plain's Centre Street. It's early, a little past 5 p.m., and the restaurant has just opened, but the bar is already halfway full. Margaritas and beers appear, and it isn't long until crispy, warm tortilla chips and assorted brightly colored salsas make their way out of the kitchen.
The front of the restaurant is home to a couple of window seats on either side of the door. Behind that, rows of high-tops built for two and a larger communal table sit just before the bar, which wraps its way around the entire right side of the restaurant. Heavy barstools from the now-closed James's Gate sit at the front tables, living on half a mile from their old home. Tables line that wall all the way to the back, where the two-tops grow into larger banquettes that allow a great view of the kitchen.
It isn't long before those tables start filling up. Since the restaurant is new, many passersby pop in from time to time just to say hello or to view the menu. A 15-minute wait for a table doubles to 30. Some people politely decline the wait, promising to come back another time. The line spills into the street. The music gets a little louder, and the crowd grows even more. Hugs between neighbors are a common sighting, making the whole place feel like one giant block party.
There's a good mix of people seated — older, younger, those on a date, and those looking for a place amongst the crowd to stash their baby strollers.
The most popular item on the menu since Casa Verde opened has been the lamb taco; it sells out most nights. A secret torta-style burger has been added to the menu, served on a house-made bun. There are only a dozen available per day, and they do go fast. Past 10 p.m., a late-night menu kicks in, offering assorted snacks — and the price of tacos dips to $2 until midnight, when the kitchen closes.