Mamacitas & Taco Temple

John Atwater

Mamacitas & Taco Temple



Photo by Lynne Harty

What is your favorite part of being a restauranteur in Asheville?

I enjoy the variety owning a restaurant provides: getting to interact with so many different people each day—from our talented staff, to our delivery drivers, to our amazing customers and visitors. No two days are ever remotely the same, and this keeps it interesting for me.

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

Our name came to us because it was one, very fun to say—and that is important if you plan on answering the phone a lot, and the two, the word Mamacitas connected with my view of the Mexican kitchen at that time; steeped in tradition, not authenticity—it reminded me of my mother then and even more so today now that she has passed, and what kid doesn’t grow up thinking their mom is the best cook in the world?  It has been a great fit for us.  We honor the food traditions of Mexico while trying all the while to not take ourselves too seriously. Seriously 🙂  

What ingredient could you not live without?

Avocado—just the sound of the word itself makes me excited to eat!  I recently got to try “Criollo” avocados while in Mexico, and you eat the thin skin of this variety too, and it has this anis flavor going on…goes incredibly well with black beans and makes any bowl of Tortilla soup even more special and soothing.  I do not know where to source them here in the States sadly.  If you know, get in touch please.  

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

Our pulled pork inside a burrito with sweet potato, black beans, and pineapple salsa!  I love our pulled pork.

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR restaurant’s menu?

Ramen bowls at Gan Shan Station never disappoint,  Chef Patrick rocks.

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

I grew up in Asheville, working in downtown during its transformation.  I am so honored to still be a part of the scene since 2004!  

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

Our stone ground mill!  We use it to grind our heirloom Mexican corn for our tortillas at our sister restaurant, Taco Temple, and use the masa for specials like Pupusas at Mamacitas. Why?  Have you ever tried to grind corn on a Metate?  No fun.