Ellisville has a new destination for refined Mexican cuisine. Malinche debuted in West County on March 17, offering a “Mexican culinary experience” inspired by the food traditions of Mexico City.

The concept comes from co-owners Angel Jiménez-Gutiérrez and Alex Ayala. Jiménez-Gutiérrez previously owned Señor Pique in Ballwin for 13 years, closing in 2017 to focus on his business consulting firm, Profundiza. Malinche – which gets its name from La Malinche, a historical figure who played a key role in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire – is an ode to his mother and head chef, Doña María Gutiérrez Molina.

“We wanted to share part of our culture through our dishes, so we chose the name of this strong female character who, to me, represents the mother of Mexico,” he says. “María Gutiérrez is my mom. She is passionate and enjoys cooking for others, and all of her knowledge in cooking comes from her grandma, aunts and mom, [which is] why we comfortably state that at Malinche, we share more than 150 years of family history through our menu.”

The eatery is a family-run enterprise through and through – Jiménez-Gutiérrez and his mother can be seen on the line, while his wife, Janet, and brother, César, actively run front-of-house duties. Akemy Ceballos acted as a chef consultant to help maximize the kitchen’s efficiency.

Malinche fills the 1,600-square-foot space previously occupied by the original location of The Greek Kitchen (which has since relocated to Kirkwood). The intimate modern atmosphere features seats for around 45 guests. The logo’s main colors, Mexican pink and turquoise, embellish the walls along with industrial elements such as corrugated metal juxtaposed with rustic touches such as serape patterns.

“We wanted to create a space where you can experience different flavors in one visit,” Jiménez-Gutiérrez says. “Our diners will be able to enjoy [everything] from our meticulous mole to the street famous pambazo, all of them served in decent portions to allow the diner to enjoy more than one plate.”

Each meal begins with a complimentary housemade starter that changes regularly, such as a housemade gordita made up of corn masa mixed with chicharron, grilled and topped with cilantro-tomatillo salsa, queso fresco and ancho-guajillo-chipotle oil.

The menu is made up of a dozen garnachas, or small plates. Popular options include arrachera calavera with a housemade blue-corn tortilla, beef arrachera (skirt steak), salsas taqueras, tuetano (bone marrow), housemade queso enchilado and guacamole. The tamalito frito harkens back to flavors from Jiménez-Gutiérrez’s childhood, incorporating ideas such as the street-side deep-fried tamales he’d eat with his family members during commutes and his grandmother’s longaniza sausage with salsa verde.

The pambacito is another highlight with guajillo-marinated telera bread, potatoes, longaniza, sour cream and housemade queso enchilado. Jiménez-Gutiérrez notes that each component is detail-oriented including housemade cheese and oil infusions as well as garnishes flavored with orange liqueur and chile-ancho vinegar.

Mixologist Rachel Stuber of Scape American Bistro consulted on the drink menu, which features tequila, mezcal and Mexican rum. Choose from cocktails such as Paloma Brava with DeLeón Tequila, citrus, egg white and sparkling grapefruit. Beer and wine are also available.

An after-hours menu is available after 9:30pm, featuring street food options such as taco al pastor with a corn tortilla, achiote pork, onion, cilantro, salsa and lime as well as tostada de tinga with a crunchy flat corn tortilla, chicken tinga, lettuce, sour cream and queso fresco.

“My mom and I are very passionate about cooking and sharing our Mexican culture through our dishes,” Jiménez-Gutiérrez says. “We come in every day happy and ready to prepare our food for diners that are going to visit us that night.”

Malinche is open Monday as well as Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 11:45pm.

Malinche, 15939 Manchester Road, Ellisville, Missouri, 636.220.8514, malinchestl.com

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