Madero’s Mexican Tequila Bar, a new concept from the owners of neighboring Wokou Noodles & Pours, has been open for about a month in the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch. After a Cinco de Mayo soft launch they have been working toward a June 24 grand opening celebration.
One wall sums up the spot’s playful vibe, reading: “I didn’t text you, tequila did!”
Madero’s bills itself as a “tequila revolution” and serves 75 different varieties of tequila and mezcals “and growing,” said co-owner Joey Pena, a Del Mar native and 2005 graduate of Torrey Pines High School. Their drink menu includes specialty cocktails (all but one tequila-based ) with over 10 margaritas in flavors such as strawberry, jalepeno, spicy passion fruit and guava which is served with fresh watermelon juice ice cubes.
The eye-catching The Boss cocktail is a mix of Casa Dragones tequila, Vida Mezcal, Pierre Ferrand Grande Champagne Curacao, lime juice, agave and egg white topped with a flower and rimmed with black lava salt.
This is the third restaurant to fill the space—it was formerly Casa Rustica and the planned California Taco Shop that never opened. Prior to that it was the fine dining establishment Crudo.
In 2017, Pena opened Wokou in the Village as part of the group Social Syndicate. Two years ago he branched off and the restaurant is now part of Empress Capital Investments, with partners Fred and James Langley. Madero’s is the first Mexican concept in the group, which also includes the six-month-old California Native in Del Mar Highlands Town Center.
For the new concept, Pena was looking to deliver authentic Mexican food. He signed on Executive Chef Cesar Reyes to develop the menu with Pena’s main criteria: “Make it how your grandparents would make it for you.”
Reyes brings his own style to the table with Madero’s modern spin on plating. They serve up beer-battered Alaskan cod, shrimp or lobster tacos, blackened salmon burritos and tacos, fajitas, chicken enchiladas and build your own rice bowls.
Signature plates include the “very popular” adobo grilled octopus served with potatoes and elote (Mexican street corn) and the Madero’s version of ranchero salmon with wild Alaskan salmon over a blistered cherry tomato puree and sautéed spinach and cremini mushrooms.
They have a selection of botanas (snacks) that pair well with their cocktail menu, sopes to ceviche.
“We do a unique version of Poutine with chicarrones instead of French fries,” Pena said.
The Mexican Poutine’s house-made chicharrones are topped with marinated carnitas, gravy, chipotle crema and cilantro. Another popular pick is the queso fundito “ooey gooey” with melted Oaxaca and Chihuahua cheese topped with chorizo, pickled onions, cilantro and chorizo oil served with fresh made tortilla chips.
Taking on the corner spot, the group had lots of ideas of how to build up the interior ambiance to make it a place that people want to be.
“For us, we are big on atmosphere,” Pena said. “We wanted to build a youthful and fun atmosphere, big on social dining, that gives an energetic feel with the décor and art.”
My Studio ID, a design group out of North Park, took Pena and Langley’s ideas for what the space should look like and elevated them. The result is beautiful tile work, green plants everywhere, brightly-colored chairs and cozy booths and much like Wokou, a unique street mural on one wall. The outdoor patio is lined with cactus with dangling light fixtures where Pena hopes guests relax and enjoy.
“I’m extremely happy with how it looks,” Pena said.
Happy hour is from 4-6 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Madero’s is located at 5964 Village Way, San Diego, 92130. Find them on Instagram @maderossd