Iron Chef Jose Garces is Opening a Buena Onda Location in Rittenhouse Square This Week - Wooder Ice
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Iron Chef Jose Garces is Opening a Buena Onda Location in Rittenhouse Square This Week

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Iron Chef Jose Garces is Opening a Buena Onda Location in Rittenhouse Square This Week

Feature Image via Michael Persico

Iron Chef Jose Garces is Opening a Buena Onda Location in Rittenhouse Square This Week

James Beard award-winner and Iron Chef Jose Garces announces the grand opening of Buena Onda in Rittenhouse Square on Friday, August 12th. The new location is located at 114 S. 20th Street, next to Chef’s famed Village Whiskey. Buena Onda is Chef’s famed taqueria that is inspired by the spirit and good vibes of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The new Rittenhouse location features indoor and outdoor seating for 48 guests, Baja-inspired vibes, a new interior design, and a new Buena Onda marketplace. Buena Onda Rittenhouse represents not just a new restaurant and concept for Center City and Rittenhouse, but this is the first location to debut as part of a larger national expansion. Buena Onda will also open a location on the Main Line this September.

Additionally, this location is one of the models for franchising of the Philly-born brand that will expand from Philadelphia to America. Each new location 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 and Fairmount (1901 Callowhill Street) will both be open for lunch, dinner and happy hour, with indoor and outdoor dining, take-out and delivery. Hours for both locations will be Monday to Sunday, seven days a week, 11:00am to 9:00pm. (Buena Onda Rittenhouse will be closed Sunday, August 14th for staff training). Buena Onda delivers on all major platforms, including Door Dash, Caviar, Grub Hub and Uber Eats. Share the good vibes on social media at @BuenaOndaTacos #GarcesGoodVibes.

“I’ve always loved the ocean, the sea air, the beach lifestyle,” said 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. I am excited to introduce those vibes to our neighbors and visitors in Rittenhouse and Center City. Additionally, I am excited that our Rittenhouse location is just the start of Buena Onda coming to cities across America through franchising. It isn’t everyday you see a Philadelphia culinary concept go national. It is a great honor and stay tuned for exciting news to come, including news about the opening for our Radnor location and news about our first franchise deal.”

Chef added, “We feel that the Rittenhouse neighborhood and community will enjoy this concept and it compliments other well-known food and drink options around us. I read a report that Center City District reports 54 new restaurants and businesses have just opened or are about to open in our area- and we are thrilled to be part of that energy and growth.”

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.

For this new Rittenhouse location, Garces will open at 114 S. 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA, next to Village Whiskey. The location offers 1,700 square feet of space, with seating inside and outside seating for 48 guests.

For the food and drink, the menu is inspired by surf towns along the Mexican coastline, with a heavy focus on seafood. Options such as shrimp and fish tacos, alongside more classic options such as pork al pastor tacos, nachos, guacamole, churros, rice and beans, meatless tofu chorizo tacos and more, to ensure every palette will leave pleased. 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.

For new items, look for Kale and Mushroom Tacos and Burritos, Chef wanted to offer additional vegetarian options. Additionally, look for K-38 Burritos, the name is inspired by the mile marker on the Baja Peninsula where all the surfing happens. This has been a secret menu item in Fairmount that was in testing and now it will leap on the menu as a new signature item and future top seller.

For vibes, patrons can look for a strong nod to the beachside surf shacks that the brand is inspired by with nods to an “Endless Summer’ vibe throughout the interiors; the iconic menu board featuring fish tacos, fresh house made guacamole and Salsa Mexicana, quesadillas, churros, and more will hold a prominent place. Cool and breezy design elements will take their cue from the Baja Mexico Coastline. Teal and gold reflect the sun and water of beach communities. Ocean glass in counter tops surrounded by natural surfaces stone and twine reminiscent of the casting nets of the local fisherman. Sand Fences guide our patrons through the space and the iconic Spanish Colonel Hutch tips our hand to the sophistication and flavor complexity about to be served. “Tranquillo” is the foundation of Buena Onda’s “Good Vibes.”

For interior design, Garces has tapped Styer Associates that was tasked with offering a one-stop solution that offers both design and construction services, allowing for a seamless project management, and so that Garces can open new locations as efficiently as possible, minimizing setbacks and delays. Styer Associates has also been tapped to come up with the new design for other Garces projects, such as another restaurant to be announced later this month.

In an effort to improve both guest and delivery driver experiences with the brand, Rittenhouse and new locations will now incorporate design elements that provide functional storage. Incorporating design functional elements that address the nature of to go/delivery is an important factor as the concept expands and pivots. This will include a set area for pick-ups for delivery platforms and for guests for take-out. All new locations moving forward will also feature alcoholic beverages but there will be no bar in the new concepts starting this week. 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.

With Rittenhouse, Buena Onda will debut a brand new marketplace section with grab and go items like freshly made salsa, salads, and aqua frescas with seasonal flavors, plus Garces Foundation merchandise, Garces and Buena Onda branded apparel and gifts, unique snacks and grocery items like Jarritos, Takis, Hi-Chews, etc and the other snack-able options.

Currently, Buena Onda is open in Fairmount at 1901 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, PA, with 1,850 square feet of space with seating inside for 36 people, and outdoor seasonal seating. The expansion of Buena Onda also includes a refresh for this location, with changes starting to debut this week inside and out.

For the new Radnor location, Buena Onda will open at 200 Radnor Chester Road, Radnor, PA, Suite 226 with 2,000 square feet of space that includes 46 seats inside and 6 seats outside. Look for an early to mid September opening on the Main Line.

Next up, look for additional news for the franchising of Buena Onda across the United States in partnership with Ballard Brands, through their joint partnership of IdEATion Hospitality. Ballard Brands brings experience as franchise veterans that own award-winning brands PJ’s Coffee and WOW American Eats.

Buena Onda franchise opportunities are now available and designed to deliver a unique experience to diners in the fast casual market with the delicious chef-inspired menu and popular Baja style libations. Interested parties are invited to meet Chef Jose Garces in person and experience his food and vision at monthly franchise seminars that will happen monthly in Philadelphia. For more information and to register for the seminar, visit

“Since the pandemic began, our team has worked hard at developing a local, regional and national expansion strategy in partnership with Ballard Brands,” said Garces. “From Philadelphia to America, I am thrilled to expand my baja-taqueria Buena Onda nationally through an exciting new franchise program. 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.”

He added, “The current take-out culture mixed with the ongoing environment of working from home has made this the perfect time to expand and bring Buena Onda to neighborhoods and towns in the Philadelphia region and across America. I’m thrilled to expand Buena Onda’s reach into this dynamic market and into one of my favorite neighborhoods”

“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.”

For Rittenhouse and Fairmount, starting Friday, look for take-out, delivery and dine-in, plus specials that include Mondays (Two Pork Al Pastor tacos for $5), Tuesdays (Half price margaritas, dine-in) and Thursdays ($2 Pollo Tacos). Happy hour currently runs seven days a week Monday to Sunday, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm, with specials on Pork Al Pastor and Pollo Tacos, Chips and Salsa Mexicana, Draft Beers, and Red and White Sangria. Hours for Rittenhouse and Fairmount will be seven days a week, 11:00am to 9:00pm. Please note, Rittenhouse will be closed on Sunday, August 14th for staff training.


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