Chef Santiago Gomez opens his Mexican supper club and rooftop lounge Palo Santo Friday, September 23, adjacent to the King Plow Arts Center on West Marietta Street. And it’s where Mexican, Japanese, and Southern flavors and dishes merge together on the menu.
Spread out over two levels, the first floor features a dimly lit dining room and bar seating 86 people, with food prepared over wood or charcoal and served family style. The bar centers heavily on mezcal and tequila cocktails as well as natural wine. On the second floor, a rooftop bar and lounge seats an additional 86 people and includes a separate menu of Mexican-Japanese dishes.
A native of Mexico City, Gomez worked for nearly two decades at notable restaurants around south Florida, including famed Japanese-Peruvian restaurant Nobu and for chefs like Daniel Boulud. His love for cooking with heirloom and local produce and ingredients began as a child while working with his grandfather harvesting avocados in Uruapan, Michoacan. Gomez moved from Miami to Atlanta last year and says he saw an opportunity to create his own niche within the city’s dining scene.
Palo Santo offers a blend of Mexican and Japanese dishes made with ingredients, produce, and proteins from Georgia farms and food purveyors. “When I talk about Georgia ingredients, we’re not just referring to what people immediately think of, like peaches,” says Gomez. “We’re focused on all ingredients grown in Georgia, such as mushrooms.”
The tetela on the menu (masa shaped like a triangle), for example, uses heirloom corn from Mexico and is filled with locally grown mushrooms. It’s served with mole and Georgia peaches. The wagyu tartare features eggplant from a local farm whipped up into a tatemada (fire-roasted salsa).
Other ingredients like corn, beans, chiles, and cacao come from small farms throughout Mexico via heirloom crop supplier Tamoa.
Beyond the family-style menu served in the main dining, there’s also the option to order a “playful” tasting menu created exclusively by Gomez from a counter overlooking the kitchen. Only four seats are available on select nights at $120 per person. It includes beverage pairings. Reservations should launch within a few weeks. The 10-seat chefs table offers a private dining experience and a family-style menu created specifically for the group.
A staircase leads up to the rooftop lounge, which is reserved for people 25 years and up and features retractable glass windows and a canopied terrace with views of the city. Expect a pared-down menu of Japanese-Mexican snacks and shared plates here, like nori tacos, tostadas, crudos, and oysters.
“Taco options include salmon with hoja santa truffle creme and wagyu asada with bone marrow and black garlic morita aioli, among others,” says Gomez. “Tostadas will include hamachi with hoja santa mayo, uni, and yuzukosho and toro with aguachile sauce and caviar.”
Look for desserts like vanilla cajeta miso soft serve ice cream and mezcal and tequila cocktails, sake, and a tight selection of wines from the rooftop bar.
“I saw a great opportunity for modern Mexican cuisine in this amazing and fast-growing city,” Gomez says. “The restaurant scene is great, but there’s always room for new concepts and cuisines as the city continues to grow.”
Check out the menu for Palo Santo below:
955 West Marietta Street, Atlanta. botanicohospitality.com.
Restaurant: Tuesday - Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Rooftop (ages 25+): Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursday - Saturday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.