Pachamama, a vegan food stand at the downtown Phoenix farmers market, is making the leap to a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
The new Phoenix restaurant, located on the northeast corner of 19th Avenue and Indian School Road, will feature items the owners introduced at the farmers market, plus new items soon.
Owners and high school sweethearts Kevin and Maria Lebronwanted to open the restaurant in April, but the pandemic delayed their plans as they scrambled to keep their first business together alive.
Now, they’re ready to open their doors, starting with a soft opening on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until sold out. The grand opening is set for Wednesday, Sept. 16.
“It has been humbling and extremely gratifying to hear the feedback,” Maria Lebron said. “One guy, who’s a meat eater, said after he had our tacos de papa that they were better than his nana’s. We thought that was a huge compliment to hear.”
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What is Pachamama?
Kevin Lebron isn’t new to the restaurant industry — he’s been cooking in the Valley for the last 20 years, with past jobs at Le Grande Orange, Upward Projects and Conceptually Social catering.
The concept of Pachamama came from Maria, who became vegan more than a year ago and wanted more options without highly processed, faux meat. Maria said she became more conscious of taking care of her health after surviving Hodgkin’s disease, a type of cancer, and undergoing two surgeries for endometriosis.
“In making a lifestyle change for myself, I realized we just needed more vegan and plant-based options in our community and that’s what birthed the idea of Pachamama for us,” Maria said.
The name Pachamama, which means “Mother Earth” in Quechua, refers to a goddess revered by the Incas. Maria said she wanted to honor Mother Earth through food and pay tribute to her and Kevin’s Latin roots — Maria is Mexican American and Kevin is Puerto Rican.
Kevin and Maria LeBron prepare a dish at Pachamama in Phoenix Sept. 6, 2020. The new vegan restaurant plans a grand opening Sept. 16. (Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic)
The menu at Pachamama has so far been mostly Latin influenced, with ingredients such as aji amarillo, a Peruvian pepper, used in the restaurant’s aioli. The tacos de papa, a top seller, are something Maria grew up eating. Kevin expanded upon the tacos she ate, stuffed with plain mashed potatoes, by adding spices and garnishes such as marinated radishes and heat from almond arbol salsa.
Kevin added it’s long been his goal to open a restaurant one day, but they wanted to start small with a stand at the downtown Phoenix farmers market.
“It’s cool, apart from having a restaurant space, it’s kinda my playground where we can create new items we’ve be talking about, but now we have a place to do it,” Kevin said.
Here’s what’s on the Pachamama menu
Fans of Pachamama’s food stand can expect all their favorites available at the same time, in one place, including:
- Tacos de papa: Corn tortillas with chile-garlic mash, cabbage, chipotle cashew crema, radishes, smoked almond dust and cilantro.
- Mexiyaki: Cripsy pancake made from hashbrowns, rice and coconut milk batter, topped with avocado pico de gallo.
- Chipotle cashew mac: Mac n’ cheese made with cashew-based cheese, topped with zucchini slaw.
- Scrambanzo burrito: A breakfast burrito stuffed with garbanzo scramble, green beans, chorizo-spiced potatoes, peppers, onions and tomato.
- Wauli-nut rizo burrito: A burrito stuffed with a walnut and cauliflower blend with chorizo spices, zucchini slaw and ahi aioli.
- Ceviche and chips: Hearts of palm, tomatoes, celery, peppers, onions and citrus.
Avo Tostados from Pachamama in Phoenix Sept. 6, 2020. The new vegan restaurant plans a grand opening Sept. 16. (Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic)
There will also be a fridge for grab-and-go options, such as “chuna salad” — a chickpea salad with the same consistency as a texture astuna salad. For beverages, Pachamama will offer two kinds of bottled aguas frescas: jamaica and cucumber, mint, lemon.
Kevin said he hopes to add a sandwich to the menu soon, and has also been working on a ramen with mushroom broth. Like with the Mexiyaki, Pachamama’s spin on okonomiyaki, he likes infusing Latin influences with other cuisines. Several of Pachamama’s menu items came from “happy accidents,” he said.
“We’ve been having a lot of ideas, but also want to pace ourselves,” Kevin said. “It’s just been Maria and myself cooking and doing the prep. We want the ability to hire staff and grow the menu.”
What to expect when the restaurant opens
To start, the Pachamama will be open for takeout five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday. The renovated space has an open kitchen and will feature colorful art pieces from David Lopez and chef Steven Contreras, formerly of Urban Phoenix Cafe.
Kevin said people can come in to order, but he encourages diners to to call ahead of time for pickup. The dining room will be open later as the pandemic subsides.
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Delivery for large orders will be available and the farmers market stand will continue to be open, he added.
“I’m excited for us to showcase what we have and what we do,” Kevin said. “I think about food 24/7. Just to be able to show people the work we’ve been putting in and the love we have for what we do. I think you taste that when you have our food.”
Pachamama is scheduled to open Sept. 16.
Details: 4115 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix. 602-586-3991, pachamamaphx.com.
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