former Liberty Bar space that's sat vacant since 2014.
Although the building languished in development limbo for years, this first exposure to the restaurant's new look and culinary offerings suggests it's been worth the wait.
First, the 11,000-square-foot Carriqui (pronounced KHER-ih-key) has been expertly renovated. It boasts open, airy dining spaces decked out with vintage-inspired art, richly-stained wood floors and warm hues.
The distinctive lean that was a trademark of the original Liberty Bar has been righted. However, the large, well-stocked bar anchoring the street level of the two-story structure offers its own brand of lived-in character.
Menu items available at the preview highlighted well-executed takes on South Texas fare, from the earthy to the elegant.
Entrees included red snapper a la plancha with wild chile mayo, lime, mint and crispy garlic as well as beef cheek barbacoa with salsa verde. Noteworthy first tastes included queso topped with brisket burnt ends, which displayed great smokiness and flavor development, and the Carriqui salad, dressed in a well-balanced vinaigrette that was at once light and flavorful.
Prices were unavailable for the preview menu, but a perusal of the online version suggests they fit with the upscale dining that dominates the Pearl area. Entrees range from $25 to $59.
Once open, Carriqui will welcome guests 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
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