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Side Dishes: "Ver-Mexican" restaurant opens in Jeffersonville

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El Zorro Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
  • El Zorro Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

On Tuesday, El Zorro Mexican Restaurant & Cantina opened in the former Red Fox Alpine Lodge at 87 Edwards Road in Jeffersonville. El Zorro’s name isn’t a reference to the pulp hero, but to a play on the building’s previous incarnation — “zorro” is Spanish for fox. The 80-seat restaurant is the brainchild of chef Kasey Longe and co-owner Jaime Dale, both formerly of 158 Main, also in Jeffersonville.

The Culinary Institute of America-trained chef notes that when he and Dale set out to fill Jeff’s south-of-the-border void, they also decided against traditional Latin dishes. Longe says he prefers to call the fare at El Zorro “authentic Ver-Mexican.” According to Longe, that means Mexican flavor profiles and Vermont ingredients prepared in unconventional dishes.

Though Longe says the menu is always changing, he names blue-corn-dusted calamari as a standard. The lightly fried squid gains flavor from housemade chipotle crema and roasted sweet corn relish. There’s also crab Rangoon, which Longe describes as a deconstructed, honey-steeped jalapeño popper with real crab. He says both traditional and Tex-Mex options appear on the menu, many of which make use of his homemade queso fresco.

Longe hopes the après-ski bar scene will be a big part of business, especially after the Mountain Road closes for the winter and diners can’t make it to Stowe. The bar itself is crafted from heat-treated copper and cherry wood milled right in Jeffersonville. Margaritas with freshly squeezed lemon and lime are part of the attraction. Flavors include strawberry and the appropriately tropical mango.

Revelers looking for somewhere to crash after tying one on are in luck — the former inn still has 110 beds upstairs. Weekend hostel packages start in the winter, offering a perfect way to fill up without worries about the drive home.

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