Taqueria Mal Pan is officially open, bringing authentic Yucatecan flavors and West Coast influence to Piedmont Row in South Park.
The exact address is 4625 Piedmont Row Drive, 115 D, near the Harris Express YMCA, Del Frisco’s, and Legion Brewing’s South Park location.
Partner Andre Lomeli described the restaurant as “rustic Mexican cuisine with a big emphasis on a scratch kitchen.” It pays homage to Lomeli’s family’s Yucatecan roots, and you’ll find his dad serving as a chef and partner.
This is Lomeli’s first restaurant in Charlotte. It’s the fast-casual version of a modern Mexican restaurant he owned in San Diego, where Lomeli lived before coming to Charlotte two years ago.
The menu: From the tortillas to the salsa to the sour mix, Lomeli said everything is made in-house. For first-timers, Lomeli recommends the California burrito, made with steak, frites, pico de gallo, guacamole, chipotle crema, and house-made salsa ($12). It’s their No. 1 selling dish, and the staff favorite.
The cocktails: Mal Pan’s cocktail program sticks with the Yucatecan theme. You’ll see a lot of margaritas and agave-based spirits featuring ingredients like fermented pineapple and traditional Mexican spices. There’s also a heavy focus on presentation. “We wanted a cocktail program that would match the kitchen,” he said.
Prices: Tacos are $8 for one, $12 for two, which includes a side dish; burritos are $12; sides are $3-$4; starters are $6; and the kids’ quesadilla is $5.
The design: The restaurant’s design is in-your-face and funky. The bold, floral wallpaper you’ll notice immediately upon walking in pays tribute to traditional Mexican dresses, called huipils, noted Lomeli. The jungle-inspired art, including the deer, pheasant, and jaguar wallpaper and the horned light fixtures, reflect animals that are prominent in the region where Lomeli’s family is from. The space itself is 1,900-square-feet with a small patio outside.
The hours: The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday, with the bar remaining open later on the weekends. Look for brunch service and catering options coming soon. They do counter service for lunch and tableside service for dinner.
The name: Yes, it does translate to bad bread. “There’s a saying in Mexico that goes, ‘When you’re hungry, there’s no bad bread.’ My grandmother would say that all the time. She came from humble beginnings,” explained Lomeli. Grandma hasn’t ventured from California to see the space yet, but he hopes she will soon.
Taqueria Mal Pan officially opened on November 25, and so far Lomeli says they’ve seen a steady base of customers, particularly among residents living in the Piedmont Row area.