Perennial Marina fave and recipient of some rave reviews from Michael Bauer, Mamacita (2317 Chestnut Street) suddenly closed down on Friday night in a move that Inside Scoop calls "an abrupt and surprising end to 12 years of business for a restaurant that played a prominent role in the rise of upscale, bar-centric Mexican restaurants in San Francisco."
The reasoning seems to have to do with new plans and a shuffling of business relationships between the three partners who opened the restaurant back in 2005, partners Nate Valentine, Stryker Scales, and chef Sam Josi. Per the Scoop, Valentine is taking his leave of this business, though he remains involved in the group's other ventures, the Cole Valley Mexican spinoff Padrecito, and Marina pub The Tipsy Pig. Scales and Josi are said to be working on a new concept in the Mamacita space that is still TBA.
As we learned last week, Valentine is at work on a new venture in the soon-to-be-closing Ruby Skye including a music venue in the main theater space called August Hall, as well as an upstairs cocktail lounge called The Green Room, and a downstairs space dubbed Fifth Arrow that will be a three-lane bowling alley and restaurant in what's now home to the club Slide. For these projects, Valentine is partnering with Tahoe's Snowball Ventures, the people behind the SnowGlobe festival, and he has former Molina chef Todd Shoberg on board to handle the food.
Mamacita came on the scene not long after another upscale Mexican spot, Doña Tomás, was making some waves in Oakland, at a time when local Mexican options tended to be only of the taqueria variety, or old-school family-style places like Don Ramon's. Using seasonal ingredients and offering up more interesting fare like jicama salads, duck leg carnitas, and barbacoa (goat) tacos, Mamacita predated other spots like Cala, Nido, La Urbana, Flores, and Lolo that have since made local foodinistas more aware of regional Mexican cuisines, and Mexican dinners that do not involve burritos or quesadillas.
And speaking of that competition, we shouldn't ignore the fact that the recently opened Flores is drawing big crowds just a few blocks away from Mamacita, and perhaps their decision to pivot to a new concept comes in anticipation of a loss of market share when it comes to sit-down Mexican in the Marina/Cow Hollow Tacolicious down the street does a booming business as well, albeit with a less extensive menu.
Stay tuned for news on what comes next to this prime piece of restaurant real estate.