Exclusive first look: Uno Mas Taqueria y Cantina opens today on South Pearl Street

Uno Mas, a new taqueria and cantina, opens at 5 p.m. today on South Pearl Street in Platt Park, and while this city is dotted with taquerias, especially on Federal Boulevard, Uno Mas, which means "one more" in Spanish, isn't a carbon copy of those -- it's better, says Patrick Mangold-White, who owns Uno Mas, along with Kaos Pizzeria and Gaia Bistro, both of which are on the same block as the new taqueria. "This is about whole animal production, farm-to-plate and getting the food from our smokers into your mouth," he tells me, adding, too, that "the food is more elevated when it comes to freshness and seasonality." And then there's the part about chef Drew Middleton, who's making good use of that outdoor smoker, roasting his own pigs and chickens, whole briskets and vegetables.

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The space, which occupies the former Budapest Bistro, is pure Mexicana with its walls hued bright yellow, red and blue -- one of which pimps a hand-painted rooster inspired by Mexican graffiti art. The barnyard bird, which is often seen sauntering here, there and everywhere in Mexico, is considered good luck, although given the success of Kaos and Gaia, it's unlikely that Mangold-White needs it.

Beyond that barnyard bird, which squats in the dining room, is a bar that seats fourteen, and to go along with Middleton's menu of street tacos (think al pastor, carnitas, barbacoa, pork belly and cheese-and-black beans), tortas and starters, including ceviche; grilled corn rubbed with sauce of chiles, lime and mayonnaise; guacamole; and a trio of salsas with chips, are numerous tequila-leaning cocktails and an impressive bottled beer list.

In the coming months, Mangold-White will add a 25-seat backyard patio enclosed with re-purposed colonial doors that are made of wood and paint brushed to resemble distressing techniques, and you can bet that the respite, like the courtyards he's created at Kaos and Gaia, will be a neighborhood hot spot.

I joined the staff last night for a tasting of Middleton's menu, the photos of which are on the following pages, as are photos of the space. Uno Mas will be open Wednesday through Saturday beginning at 11:30 a.m., closing at 9 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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