What's In Store

A fast-casual taqueria and bar concept is on its way to SouthPark

Mal Pan’s Brussels salad with chimichurri yogurt.
Mal Pan’s Brussels salad with chimichurri yogurt. Courtesy of Mal Pan

Bold flavors. Lots of fresh spices. Authentic Mexican liquors. These are all things that owner Andre Lomeli uses to describe the new fast-casual concept he’s bringing to SouthPark.

Mal Pan, a taqueria and bar that was inspired by his former restaurant in San Diego, is set to bring a menu that isn’t found very often in the Charlotte area.

“Our last restaurant, Leña, was in a touristy area in San Diego,” Lomeli told CharlotteFive. “I met several customers that were from the Carolinas, which peaked our interest in the area. After doing some research, we really liked the city of Charlotte. We thought it was a great area to test this new concept. It’s also great that North Carolina is a pro-business place, so we decided to move out here.”

Lomeli and his team of chefs are all of Mexican descent. More specifically, they’re from the Yucatan Peninsula. This region is known for dishes that aren’t as widely known within the U.S.

“My two chefs are from Jalisco, Mexico. They each have over 40 years of experience in the kitchen. We’re excited to bring a really great product from California. It’s different as far as Mexican food goes — very creative, yet approachable.”

All menu items will be made in-house, with the exception of meats being sourced from local companies. Expect house-made tortillas, salsas and spice rubs.

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Mal Pan’s chefs will focus on the flavors of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Courtesy of Mal Pan

One of the highly anticipated dishes for Lomeli is his Cochinita Pibil. It’s pork butt wrapped in banana leaves, seasoned with spices and citrus juices, then cooked for 10 hours. Chefs will plate it with pickled red onions, habaneros and tortillas.

In addition to the cuisine, get ready for some pretty amazing Mexican cocktails, too.

Although North Carolina liquor regulations are stiff, the restaurant is hoping to source several Yucatan liquors for its drinks. It will even make its own bitters and shrubs for fresh-squeezed margaritas and sangrias.

When you enter Mal Pan after it opens this fall, you’ll instantly be transported to Tulum, Mexico. Lots of greenery and neon colors, yet a modern tropical feel.

“We’re excited to get the doors open and become a new addition to the growing scene here in Charlotte.”

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This article originally appeared at charlottefive.com.

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