A supergroup of Triangle food veterans is coming soon to Raleigh’s Gateway Plaza. Fiction Kitchen, a downtown Raleigh vegetarian staple, will be relocating to 2431 Crabtree Boulevard from 428 S. Dawson Street.  Joining them at their new location is new restaurant and bar, Mala Pata and Peyote—the brainchild of Ex-Voto’s Marshall Davis, Locals Seafood’s Eric Montagne, and Centro’s Angela Salamanca.

This new shared space—which will play host to all three concepts—is slated to open in the summer of 2023. 

When Davis learned that his friends at Fiction Kitchen and Locals were both planning on moving to Gateway Plaza, he says that a collaboration felt natural. Davis and Montagne have worked alongside each other at the Durham Food Hall and enjoyed some of the benefits of a shared space. 

“As we started investigating the project, Eric and I were dealing with some logistical problems at the Food Hall,” Davis explains. “Through finding solutions, we realized just how aligned we were in how we wanted to operate our businesses.”. 

Conversations over shared freezer space evolved into brainstorming sessions over potential dishes the two could create together. From there, Davis says, they decided to look into starting their own joint venture. 

They soon looped in Davis’ longtime partner and Centro owner Angela Salamanca, and restaurant and bar duo Mala Pata and Peyote were born. The menu will feature Latin American dishes with an emphasis on tradition and high-quality ingredients. Corn features heavily on the menu—Davis says they plan to grind their own masa in-house, using meticulously sourced heirloom Mexican corn. 

And while patrons can expect fresh tortillas, tamales, and tortilla chips, the team is also discovering new ways to showcase corn. 

“The core of the menu will use corn wherever possible,” Davis says. “It will obviously appear in our tortillas and tamales—which we’ll use for tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, chips—everything we can. We’re also trying things we’ve never used corn in. We’re even using it in some of our cocktails and desserts, things like sweet corn ice cream.” 

Gateway Plaza. Credit: Courtesy photo / RB | PR

Their double horseshoe bar will face an open kitchen where guests can get a front seat to the cooking process. 

Peyote, the restaurant’s grab-and-go ghost bar and mini-mercato, will offer cocktails, casual dishes, and a broad selection of Latin American spirits so that patrons can take them to sit at Gateway’s communal seating.

Peyote is a more casual and eclectic take on Latin American cuisine, Davis says, and plays a bit with the playful, irreverent aesthetic that Ex-Voto has adopted in recent years. 

While Mala Pata is intended to honor the traditional side of Latin American cuisine, Peyote will pay homage to the dives and unassuming taco shops that also shape the world of Mexican food. This duality, Davis explains, is an essential part of their mission.

An ethical work life for the team is also part of the mission, Davis says, and the restaurant will adopt Local Seafood’s work policies.

“The bigger mission outside of food is trying to shape the work life for our people,” Davis says. ‘We’re trying to build a more sustainable restaurant life. Health insurance, retirement plans, a more than living wage, tip pools inclusive of both our front and back of house staff.”

Davis also says that the team behind Mala Pata is committed to a menu with an accessible price point. 

“If people aren’t happy, they aren’t going to be inspired,” Davis explains. “We want to take care of our people— then have fun with the food.”

Comment on this story at food@indyweek.com.

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