Macanda, the new lakefront restaurant in Wayzata from Daniel del Prado and Aaron Switz, is familiar in that way you can't quite put your finger on.
"The concept is all over the place," del Prado told the Star Tribune this past spring. "I like that."
Customers seem to like it, too. Since the restaurant with a largely Latin American menu opened last month, it's been buzzing well into the evening. That could have something to do with the airy covered patio abutting Lake Minnetonka; the former Wayzata Brew Works is prime real estate, after all.
But del Prado appears to have the magic touch with every new venture (see: any of the half-dozen popular restaurants he's opened just since the pandemic). With a portfolio that covers Roman Italian, Argentinian, Oaxacan, Middle Eastern and, recently, classic bistro French, he rarely repeats himself.
With Macanda, it's different. There are elements here that a regular of Martina, Colita, Cardamom or del Prado and Switz's Josefina down the street, might recognize. When it feels like you can't swing a potted palm without hitting a DDP restaurant, a little familiarity is bound to happen. That's not a bad thing.
Location: 294 Grove Lane E., Wayzata, 952-679-1222, macandawayzata.com. The restaurant is in the Boatworks Building, along with 6 Smith. From the building's main entrance, hang a quick left and go down a long hallway to find Macanda.
Hours: Open 5 p.m.-midnight Mon.-Thu. (with the kitchen closing at 10 p.m.), 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Fri.-Sat. (kitchen closing at 10:30 p.m.), 5-10 p.m. Sun. (kitchen closing at 9 p.m.).
The food: The menu from chef Steve McMullen has a heavy Mexican flourish. (The restaurant describes it as "global flavors in a traditional Mexican structure.") Corn tortillas — fresh and thick — come with almost every dish.
The rather extensive menu is filled with smallish yet shareable plates: botanas, soft tacos and crispy tostadas all work as starters. You'll want to try a lot of them, but it does add up.
We started with the guacamole mixto ($15), reimagined with the addition of pistachio macha (a nutty salsa), and the red snapper aguachile ($19) that came alive with the acid in charred pineapple. A selection of tacos (two in each order) revealed particular deft with vegetarian fillings. We loved the meaty roasted eggplant ($15) and deeply flavorful cauliflower tinga ($16), which reminded me of a favorite Cardamom dish. The bigeye tuna tostada ($27), dressed simply with sesame seeds and the ashes of burnt onion, was tasty but gone too quickly.
Five large plates of grilled proteins are made for sharing, the most alluring of which was the beef long rib ($68). My party of four couldn't come close to finishing this caveman-style entree, which came with a brush stroke of mole negro. Add the app of three salsas ($12) — guajillo, passion fruit and tomatillo — to dress it up.
The drinks: Brian Kunz runs the bar programs at del Prado's Wayzata restaurants, and is imaginative with housemade elixirs of blended spirits and ferments. The Oaxacan Vice ($15) promised piña colada and strawberry, and came off like a tropical Campari spritz. Two frozen cocktails ($18) are especially patio-friendly on warm nights, with the festive Illeana, a tequila-guava-dragonfruit drink in millennial pink, becoming an instant social media star.
The vibe: An entrance hallway lined with dramatically lit cacti is the first sign you've left Minnesota for a resort south of the border. Woven basket lamps, wicker and clay plant pots, curved wooden chairs and greenery propped on every available surface all double down on the illusion. The restaurant itself is rather snug, but the chic patio more than doubles the available space — and that's where you'll want to be, gazing at the tasteful array of boats under a Lake Minnetonka sunset.
There's a record bar, too: Behind a door in that long cactus-lined hallway, Macanda's Hi-Fi is where the party starts — or continues after dinner. Inspired by record bars abroad, this vinyl lounge has DJs scheduled nightly for the rest of the summer, and its own cocktail menu that adheres more to the classics with some liberties: a gin Old Fashioned, melon negroni, banana whey sour. (But avoid if small spaces aren't your thing.)