Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican fare have arrived in Lafayette Square. Mayo Ketchup opens today in the neighborhood featuring the Latin-forward food of chef Mandy Estrella, known as Plantain Girl. Estrella anticipates cooking up 400 to 500 plantains a week to create the dishes throughout her new menu.

“We’re looking forward to opening our permanent home in Lafayette Square and we’re fortunate to find a space that’s centrally located for all of our loyal followers,” Estrella says. “I’m excited to see a lot of familiar faces and make a lot of new friends.”

As reported by Feast earlier this year, the fast-casual eatery pays playful homage to the most popular condiment in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Mayo Ketchup is Estrella’s first standalone restaurant after four years of pop ups and walk-up counter concepts Alphateria at Alpha Brewing Co. in Tower Grove South and Good Bowl by Plantain Girl at The Doghaus in Soulard.

The restaurant fills the 4,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Laredo, with around 85 seats throughout the dining areas and another 14 on a front patio facing Lafayette Park. Ample street parking is available.

Remodeling included converting the existing bar into an ordering station and a colorful paint job of pastel orange, yellow and green hues to lend a tropical feel to the rooms. Embellishments include greenery, prints of Cuba by photographer Robert Bullivant, paintings by Elena Nunez and TVs that will display sports.

From the menu, choose from Estrella’s signatures such as a ropa vieja bowl with slow braised flank steak, black beans, white rice, maduros (fried sweet plantains), avocado and pickled onion. The dish is prepared in a traditional Cuban style. Another mainstay is a jibarito sandwich with your choice of meat, Swiss-American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo ketchup on twice-fried green plantains.

New dishes include a selection of salads as well as appetizers including tostones con queso y papaya with twice-fried green plantains, whipped goat cheese, poached papaya and lime. Vegan options on the menu include a vegan version of the house beef empanada with a vegan picadillo-style beef substitute in hand-rolled dough.

In a few weeks, additional items to be added to the menu include mofungo (fried green plantain, garlic, olive oil, salt pork skin, chicken broth and your choice of meat), bacalaitos (fried codfish fritters) and tequenos (queso blanco wrapped in fried dough).

For dessert, choose from options such as pineapple upside down cake. Estrella will also be working with Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery, which operates an ice cream parlor in the neighborhood, to offer some tropical flavors of ice cream and sorbet. Drink options include beverages by the bottle and cans such as Island Oasis frozen drinks, Mexican Coke, Goya fruit sodas and Coco Rico. 

Pending the acquisition of a liquor license, the bar will feature options such as a barrel-aged Manhattan, fruit-infused rums, sangria and local craft beers. Estrella also hopes to bring Presidente or Medalla Light beers to the area.

Mayo Ketchup is open Wednesday through Thursday from 11am to 8pm, Friday through Saturday from 11 to 9pm and Sunday from 11 to 8pm.

Mayo Ketchup, 2001 Park Ave., Lafayette Square, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.696.2699, plantaingirl.com

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