Food & Drink

The owners of Gonza Tacos are opening a new rooftop restaurant in downtown Durham

The owners of Gonza Tacos y Tequila are opening a new rooftop restaurant in downtown Durham called Macondo Latin Cuisine. It is the second of two planned locations, following an earlier restaurant to open in North Raleigh.
The owners of Gonza Tacos y Tequila are opening a new rooftop restaurant in downtown Durham called Macondo Latin Cuisine. It is the second of two planned locations, following an earlier restaurant to open in North Raleigh. Pam Varela/Witek Marketing

A new rooftop restaurant is in the works for downtown Durham, coming from the owners of Gonza Tacos y Tequila.

Macondo Latin Cuisine, the second concept from Gonza owners Gonza Salamanca and Carlos Rodriguez, will open in the new Longfellow Real Estate high-rise in downtown Durham.

Usually two comes after one, but Salamanca and Rodriguez are already announcing a second location of a restaurant they haven’t even opened.

In February, the owners announced Macondo would go into the Sojourn Glenwood Place Apartments, just inside the Raleigh Beltline. The South American restaurant is named for the fictional town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

Salamanca said opening Macondo in downtown Durham was the original plan, but things just took a little longer than expected.

“We wanted to move into Durham first,” Salamanca said. “It’s going to be in the middle of everything. ... The offering was very tempting.”

Construction has yet to start on the Raleigh Macondo, but the owners said it will open early next year. The Durham location should open in late 2020.

Macondo will take the company in a new direction, with a menu of broadly Latin American dishes, touching on the cuisines of Peru, Argentina and Colombia, where Salamanca and Rodriguez are from.

“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 earlier this year. “We’re excited about bringing new flavors and dishes to the Triangle.”

The second Macondo location, on the top floor of the new Longfellow building, will have a wide view of a changing downtown Durham. From a vantage point on that rooftop, in a building that didn’t exist just a few months ago, one can see the Durham Gonza, built, like much of the new city, in an old tobacco warehouse.

Salamanca said he’s proud of the restaurant empire Gonza has become, of the individual personalities created in each of the locations, but that the owners also want to be part of where the city is going.

“All these new buildings, they’re going to keep coming,” Salamanca said. “We wanted to be part of this new part of Durham. The city has treated us really well.”

The new rooftop restaurant will be about 5,000 square feet, Salamanca said, with seating for 150. There will be sliding doors leading out to a patio, which will be open as the weather allows.

“The rooftop is just an amazing place,” Salamanca said in a phone interview. “The view is just amazing.”

The first Gonza opened in North Raleigh in 2011 and has since added locations all over the Triangle, including downtown Durham. The popular restaurants are known for tacos, nachos and a menu of margaritas. The success of those restaurants, Salamanca said, freed the company up to take more of a culinary risk with a concept like Macondo.

“Gonza has been very good to us,” Salamanca said of the restaurants. “We have a strong base to try and play with a different concept. Five years ago, we’re not going to risk it, but now we can play with a new menu. ... Diners, that’s what they’re looking for, something different.”

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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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