Richard Sandoval, chef-owner of Richard Sandoval Restaurants, has added Zocalo in Midtown Atlanta to his restaurant group’s roster of over 30 locations.
On May 4, Zocalo debuted new upscale Mexican food and beverage menus, plus new decor and tableware.
Executive chef Lucero Martinez-Obregon will continue to head the kitchen, a role she’s filled since her family opened Zocalo in 1995. Since 2009, Martinez-Obregon also has been chef de cuisine at Sandoval’s Pampano in New York City.
Last week, Sandoval was in town for a few days, and joined Martinez-Obregon for lunch at Zocalo.
Over queso fundido, cochinita pibil with habanero salsa, and caramel flan with pineapple-strawberry pico, they discussed their partnership and plans for the restaurant.
“Lucero had been working for me for almost four years and I never knew about this place,” Sandoval said. “She came as a sous chef and I really loved her work. We talked about doing something together in New York, but this idea came up when she told me about Zocalo.
“I came down and looked at it, and I really liked the space and the food. But I think without Lucero here something was missing. I think the community really missed her. So the idea is for her to eventually come back to Atlanta full-time.”
Martinez-Obregon said she was excited by the idea of getting back to Atlanta and Zocalo.
“I love Atlanta,” she said. “New York is New York, and it was a great opportunity. I think I learned a lot. But Atlanta is still growing and you can still be a part of it.”
Sandoval agreed that New York can be a tough town, especially in terms of rent, and he compared Atlanta to Denver, where he has several restaurants.
“It’s very challenging to be successful in New York. It’s the most competitive city in the world. I have restaurants all over the country, but I love Denver. I have eight restaurants there and I think we might have that kind of opportunity here.”
The new menu merges dishes from Sandoval and dishes from Martinez-Obregon, with new items like Baja-style grilled fish tacos and achiote salmon, and brunch on weekends.
But old favorites are there, too, like the black bean patties and poblano soup.
The bar has been updated, and offers a bigger tequila program, while the terrace has gotten a face-lift and new furniture.
“There were simple things that we needed to do,” Sandoval said. “We made it so you can cover things up in the winter, and this should become a 12-month restaurant for this neighborhood.”
187 10th St. NE, 404-249-7576, richardsandoval.com/zocalo.
- by Bob Townsend for the Food & More blog