Is Wayzata the new Minneapolis? Maybe not, but with the July opening of Macanda on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, just a year after Italian restaurant Josefina stepped onto the plate, restauranteur Aaron Switz is on track to bring upscale cuisine to the area.
“I’ve never seen such hype. It’s unbelievable,” Switz says. “People walk in [to Macanda] and say, ‘I can’t believe I’m in Wayzata.’”
With a name that is an homage to the works of Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez, Macanda’s menu features a whimsical take on Mexican classics and a Tulum-chic interior. “We knew, with the water, we wanted to do a higher-end Mexican concept here,” Switz says. “We want people to think they’re walking into a Four Seasons Resort, to feel like they’re on vacation.”
That both Macanda and Josefina are a partnership with Minneapolis food visionary Danny del Prado is a testament to Switz’s seriousness in transforming Wayzata. Originally from Argentina, del Prado has reshaped the Minneapolis restaurant industry with his culinary creativity. “He’s the best chef in town,” Switz says.
Del Prado’s inspiration for Macanda’s menu is tied to Latin America’s magical realism, bringing “vivid images of reality generously sprinkled with whimsy and majesty.” Each dish, then, seeks to bring something new and eclectic to Mexican tradition. The starters, or botanas, feature some of these expected items, with a twist—chips and salsa with guajillo, passion fruit and tomatillo, for instance—along with some more unique items, like roasted beets and red snapper aguachile. Deeper in the menu, you’ll find a collection of mouth-watering soft taco options and chicken enchiladas alongside Spanish octopus and beef long rib.
The fusion of international flavors found on the menu is inspired by a team trip to Mexico City, where the local cuisine is often infused with European influences. “[Macanda] kind of resembles what a Mexican restaurant would be in Mexico City,” Switz says. “We do have a lot of traditional things on the menu, but we have a lot of things that are more wild.”
The drink menu, curated by beverage director Brian Kunz, features out-of-the-box offerings, like a savory Mushroom Old Fashioned that lists burnt butter as an ingredient and the Illeana, a fabulously popular frozen tequila cocktail featuring guava, dragon fruit and lychee.
The design of Macanda teases an elevated yet comfortable eating experience for 100 guests (17 additional bar seating), with a collection of wide booths encircling large live-edge wood tables and gravity-defying chairs handcrafted by Roger Asp from RJA Cabinetry & Design. The space is replete with natural wood textures and soft grays and layered with organic textures and angles, chosen by Switz and inspired by his travels and Pinterest feed. All around, Bohemian woven lighting fixtures add dimension, and plants act as both barrier and décor, with Minneapolis company Tonic Living and Landscapes going so far as to clip the spikes off the cacti (for safety purposes). And in the winter, with the frozen shores of Lake Minnetonka as a backdrop, garage-style doors will open to integrate the restaurant with the four-season, 120-person patio.
“It makes me happy,” Switz says. “The view, the patio, just taking it all in. For me, I just walk in, and it’s such a cool feel—and to have the great food and great vibe, it’s all the better.”
For Switz, choosing the location in Wayzata was as personal as it was business. The Deephaven resident noticed a trend toward staying local during COVID-19 and wanted to make it easier for his friends and community to get great food in a suburban environment.
“If you can put something cool where people don’t have to go downtown, which I think we’ve done here and at Josefina, they’re more than happy to drive a mile or walk to dinner. For a while it was always—you have to go the big city for fun times and great food, and that changed going into COVID,” Switz says. “The suburbs are having a good day.”
What’s next? For Switz, it’s only up from here. “We’re booked out,” he says, all smiles. But how could it be otherwise? As waves lap into the marina just feet from Macanda’s sun-soaked patio, Switz looks entirely at home.
He says, “It’s been a fun journey on this one; it’ll be hard to beat.”
For those making a maiden voyage to Macanda, Switz recommends starting with Guacamole Mixto, Queso Fundito and Red Snapper Aguachile before moving to the tacos. “The roasted eggplant is unbelievable,” he says and suggests ordering the Crab Tostada.
For an entrée, Switz suggests the Spanish Octopus or the Chicken Enchiladas, which he describes as “insane,” with Corn Esquites as the side. “Those would be my go-tos,” he says. “Everybody likes those. It’s hard not to.”
The hi-fi record bar is inspired by Switz’s love for Tokyo’s listening bars, an institution from the 1920s that offer an interactive listening experience off the beaten path. Nestled between the main bar and the kitchen, Macanda’s hi-fi bar starts off each night as a speakeasy, featuring a unique selection of cocktails (including out-there options like Banana Whey Sours and Sandalwood Martinis) and great music played by nightly DJs in an intimate social 35-seat environment.
Visitors can begin the night with cocktail starters, classic miniature cocktails that pack a punch—a takeaway from the group’s trip to Mexico City. “There’s a lot of restaurants there … They give you a little warm-up when you come in,” Switz says. “It’s meant to be niche-y and different.”
Later in the night, the hydraulic doors lift and the record bar becomes an extension of the restaurant. “We have the ability to flip a switch, so the whole restaurant can hear it,” Switz says. (It is, however, closed during rented or special events with smaller groups.)
A full list of hi-fi record bar events and DJs is available at macandawayzata.com.
294 Grove Lane E., Wayzata
Facebook: Macanda Wayzata