Mexican-inspired tortilleria and agave bar Maíz Agua Sal, or MAS, is coming soon to west Charlotte’s Wesley Heights neighborhood, according to a Tuesday press release.
The restaurant will be a part of ARDR Hospitality Group (ARDR), the company behind Craft Tasting Room, Lincoln Street Kitchen and Cocktails, and The Green Room.
“We aspire to celebrate and elevate the humble trio of corn (maíz), water (agua), and salt (sal) — the three ingredients of a tortilla — transforming them into the artisanal foundation of our nixtamalized heirloom corn tortillas and tacos,” ARDR Hospitality co-founder Alyson Davis stated in the release.
Nixtamalization is a grain preparation process in which the grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, washed and then hulled.
Chef Jonathan Olvera, a first-generation Mexican American from Salisbury, will lead the kitchen of the 5,000-square-foot restaurant located at 1018 Jay St., Suite 110, next to Lucky Dog Bark and Brew, Not Just Coffee and hygge coworking’s Wesley Heights location.
Olvera has worked in the kitchens of Peppervine, Bardo, Leah & Louise, and Dot Dot Dot.
“What excites me about the project is honestly having the opportunity to really represent my culture,” Olvera stated in the press release. “There are some great Hispanic restaurants in Charlotte. Coming from a fine-dining background, I’ve always wondered what I would do if I had the opportunity to make it more refined. What if that great taco was in an heirloom corn tortilla and the protein was sourced locally from the farmers that are all around us?”
Award-winning mixologist and ARDR bar program manager Amanda Britton will run the MAS beverage program, providing what the press release called “the most highly curated, specialized spirits collection in Charlotte.” The bar will offer drinks such as mezcal and tequila as well as nonalcoholic options.
“The opportunity to travel to Mexico for hands-on learning has been instrumental in the conceptualization and curation of our offerings for MAS,” Britton said. “We are bringing in new spirits that have never been served in Charlotte. I can’t wait to share that with Charlotte.”
The 125-seat restaurant will include a covered patio seating and skyline view of Uptown’s west side designed to be “transportive, like you’ve just walked down a street in the La Condesa or Roma neighborhoods of Mexico City: the food, the space, the sound, the flavors,” Davis said.
Olvera will create recipes that reflect his family’s roots from the Michoacan region of Mexico, including pozole, mole, carnitas, al pastor shaved off the trompo, tacos al vapor, gorditas, pickled pork rinds and vegetables.
“I’ve been drawing inspiration from family recipes,” Olvera said. “There will be no Tex-Mex or fusion in the mix. Honoring my heritage has been a career goal, and the influence of my ancestors will be present.”
The restaurant is set to open in early 2024.
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