Palo Santo in Santiago Gomez brings fine Mexican cuisine to West Marietta

The Mexican high-end scene in Atlanta is about to get a new member. In August, Chef Santiago Gomez’s first local venture, Palo Santo, opened on West Marietta Street adjacent to the King Blue Center for the Arts.

Since moving here just eight months ago from Miami, Gomez says he’s already seen opportunities to establish a niche in the Atlanta dining scene. “I went to a couple of restaurants here and they were different from what I’d bring to Atlanta. When I moved to Miami, there weren’t a lot of Mexican restaurants. The only Mexican restaurants were a little bit out of town and more homey. That’s what I found here more or less.”

Gomez, who has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, envisions Paulo Santo as Mexican cuisine rooted in Georgian ingredients. Born in Mexico City, Gomez puts his culture and heritage at the forefront of his work. “As a Mexican, I always try to take my culture wherever I go,” he says. “This is something I’ve been doing since I moved to the States.” He works with growers in different Mexican states to bring ingredients including beans, chocolate, chile, and corn to Palo Santo.

Gomez moved to Atlanta from Miami eight months ago
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Gomez also found a community in Atlanta with support from local chefs. “All the people were really nice to me, which made me feel at home,” he says. Atlanta chefs including Ford Fry, Steven Satterfield of Miller Union and Pat Pascarella of Grana have supported Gomez by partnering with intel, as are suppliers. It was also warmly received by local farmers and artists.

The ingredients are not the only area where Georgian and Mexican cultures intersect. Lots of art and decor at Palo Santo—agave fiber pendants, drapes, ceramics, and tableware, made by Mexican or local artists and craftsmen, including collages by Truett Dietz and stucco wall design by Super Delicious.

Palo Santo is divided into two levels. The lower floor houses a restaurant and an open kitchen. Everything here will be prepared on wood or charcoal and served in a family style. Gomez says this area will have a more bohemian vibe. This floor is also home to the bar, which Gomez envisions as a destination within the restaurant. General manager and bar manager Antonio Morales is a native of Atlanta and shares Gomez’s Mexican family background. Mezcal, tequila and natural wine will lead the pack. “We don’t want people to just think drinks come to their table, we want people to sit down [at] Gomez says.

A person in a blue shirt sits in front of a hamachi aguachile.

The rooftop will serve Mexican-Japanese cuisine.
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On the surface, the atmosphere and menu would be completely different. “I worked at Nobu for about two years and then worked in other Japanese restaurants,” he says. “We decided to make a Japanese-Mexican menu there.” The rooftop dining selection will focus on snackable items like nori taco, tostada and ceviche, while the bar will focus on sake. “Nori taku and tostada are 100% Japanese [ingredients] Like good nori, good rice, but we mix some Mexican ingredients to get that mix that will give the city something different.”

In addition to blending his heritage and his new home, Gomez aims to change some people’s views of Mexican food and bring New Mexican cuisine in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles to Atlanta.

“It’s a different Mexican cuisine. It’s fun and varied and different.” “We are very excited to bring this concept to Atlanta and hope to add to the city and start doing great things here: bring in chefs from other places and start collaborating here, start doing our work here, but we’re really excited to be there.” Here in Atlanta.”

955 West Marietta Street

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