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Gonza Tacos y Tequila owners plan a new restaurant that goes well beyond tacos

The owners of the popular Gonza Tacos y Tequila restaurants have a new concept. Macondo Latin Cuisine will open later this year in Raleigh. Pictured is the Gonza tacos location on Hillsborough Street.
The owners of the popular Gonza Tacos y Tequila restaurants have a new concept. Macondo Latin Cuisine will open later this year in Raleigh. Pictured is the Gonza tacos location on Hillsborough Street. Bill Griggs Photography

The owners of Gonza Tacos y Tequila are opening an entirely different restaurant concept this fall.

Macondo Latin Cuisine will open in the Sojourn Glenwood Place Apartments complex off of U.S. 70, just inside the Raleigh Beltline. Restaurant owners Gonza Salamanca and Carlos Rodriguez announced their new project Thursday afternoon in a release.

Taking its name from Nobel-winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s fictional town in the novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Macondo evokes the home country of the restaurant’s owners. But it will serve a menu that’s broadly Latin American, Salamanca said in a phone interview.

“Macondo is a very special name for Colombians,” Salamanca said. “It’s where magic happens and everything is possible. That’s what we we want to recreate.

“The food we’re working on, it’s the flavors from Mexico to Argentina; not necessarily the traditional food, but with a twist,” Salamanca said. “We’re excited about bringing new flavors and dishes to the Triangle.”

Since first opening in a North Raleigh strip mall in 2011, the Gonza tacos concept has grown into a local empire, with four other locations between Raleigh, Cary and Durham, a food truck and a stand at the Durham Bulls stadium. Salamanca said the owners of Sojourn apartments initially approached them about a new Gonza location in the complex, but he and Rodriguez suggested a new concept.

“We love Gonza; it’s our baby,” Salamanca said. “But we don’t want to fill the Triangle with more Gonzas. This will have more Latino flair than Mexican.”

The menu hasn’t been finalized, but Salamanca said Macondo will be a tour of classic Latin American dishes — the ceviches of Peru, steak of Argentina, as well as the flavors of Cuba and Colombia. The cocktail list will be similar — pisco sours from Peru, caipirinhas from Brazil and mojitos from Cuba.

Compared to Gonza, Salamanca said Macondo’s menu will be built more around small plates and large family style entrees to share. Also, he said, it would be geared more to date nights than dinner for the entire family.

For Macondo, Salamanca and Rodriguez consulted with Colombian chef Santiago Macías, who cooks in Argentina, as well as input from Gonza’s executive chef Jose Miguel.

“After seven years, Gonza Tacos y Tequila has its own identity, and is highly successful, so we didn’t want to stray too much from that concept,” Rodriguez said in the release. “With Macondo we are able to start the next chapter and showcase in a direct way, our South American background.”

The space in Sojourn is already built to accommodate a restaurant, Salamanca said, potentially cutting down on the build out time. Macondo will move into a 4,200-square-foot space, with indoor and outdoor dining areas and seating for more than 100, Salamanca said.

The restaurant is already set up with accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at MacondoNC.

Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.
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