4
| Vegan |

$10 Lunch: Vegan Tacos De Papa, or Ceviche, at Pachamama

Vegan tacos de papa from PachamamaEXPAND
Vegan tacos de papa from Pachamama
Chris Malloy
^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

As a restaurant, Pachamama is hard to capture in a neat description.

It’s vegan, but nothing like what that might lead you to imagine. It’s Mexican but also leans into broader Latin traditions as well as other styles that Puerto Rican chef Kevin Lebron has picked up in his long career, having cooked in places like La Grande Orange.

The menu at Pachamama, which traded the farmers’ market for its brick-and-mortar location at 4115 North 19th Avenue in the last days of summer, is small. Just this past week, Lebron and his wife, Maria — they're the co-owners and the restaurant's only workers — pared it down even further. Now, the menu stands at six items plus a special. They’re a product of the mind-meld between non-vegan Kevin and vegan Maria, whose diet and tastes inspire much of the menu.

The centerpiece of the menu is an order of tacos de papa. These potato tacos are, Lebron says, pretty much mashed potatoes in a taco. But they are cheffed up into something a little more.

An order brings three tacos for $9. They are hard-shell corn tortillas with all the crunch of tortilla chips, griddled long and shaped around a smashed potato with garlic. Chomp in, and it’s all dramatic shell wreckage and then the decadent glide of the hot potato. The potatoes are Yukon golds embellished with coconut milk. Though the shell-potato one-two steals the show, other touches provide small boosts on the edges, like a cashew-chipotle “crema” and smoked almonds.

I like the salsa that sidekicks this taco, which also happens to be available by the small tub for $5. Made from chile de arbol and almonds, it’s a really clean and light salsa, with some pretty unshy fruity notes, a bit of thickness, and a fast-building moderate heat.

Another item that caught my eye was the fish-less ceviche ($11) that spotlights hearts of palm. This isn’t the first marine-free ceviche to feature prominently on a local eatery’s menu (RIP Bri). The dish comes from Maria’s memories of growing up eating shrimp ceviche. She, of course, no longer eats shrimp. Big rounds of hearts of palm coated with lemon and lime and mixed with chopped tomatoes and celery provide a vague something of a fish-like texture.

Chips and a salsa made from chile de arbol and almonds.EXPAND
Chips and a salsa made from chile de arbol and almonds.
Chris Malloy

Jam in and heap your chips (which are only $1, by the way). The ceviche is a refreshing version, one with minimal citrus zing. On its own, it won’t fill you up, so order it as a side or to share with someone while you make tacos or a burrito the main event.

The Lebrons like to keep ingredients local. For instance, they recently ran a taco special featuring Southwest Mushrooms' oyster mushrooms with a Serrano salsa.

Open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Pachamama feels like something of an incubation space for cool vegan cooking. The Lebrons plan to open “a few different vegan concepts,” Kevin says. Right now, though, you can grab a solid lunch from their first.  

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.