New Mexican restaurant honors the vibrant legacy of Frida Kahlo

Published 12:04 pm Friday, February 4, 2022

By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Frida Kahlo Modern Mexican Cuisine sits in the corner of the Pelham Pkwy shopping center in between Café Trentuno and an H&R Block. While the space is small, it immediately catches your eye with its window painting of Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican artist known for her vibrant and complex self-portraits, on the front of the restaurant, and it gives patrons a preview of the vibrant menu items offered.

The restaurant opened its doors on Jan. 19, and the owners, Claudia and Nathanial Hernandez, immediately began serving imaginative takes on famous Mexican dishes to the community.

The restaurant’s origin is actually years in the making. Nathaniel, who is also the restaurant’s chef, and Claudia had a restaurant that ultimately closed eight years ago, and Claudia and Nathanial took the time to come up with the perfect concept for a new restaurant.

“He has been thinking about this for about eight years,” Claudia said. “Over that time, he was making different recipes of very different dishes, more modern recipes that would really catch people’s eye as soon as you see the plate.”

Nathanial found that a lot of the things he wanted to incorporate into his menu shared a lot of things in common with the artwork of Frida Kahlo.

“She uses a lot of flowers and bright, colorful things in her art, and he wanted to do the same for the food,” Claudia said. “He wanted something like different, colorful, a lot of different flavors, so every time he made a plate, he would decorate the plate to make it like Frida Kahlo’s art.”

Claudia said there are few people who come to the restaurant who don’t know who Frida Kahlo is, and anyone who doesn’t know finds out quickly. The restaurant itself is an homage to Kahlo’s work: vibrant and full of personality. Kahlo’s signature stare covers one of the walls in a mural collage of Kahlo’s portraits with several quotes from Kahlo painted throughout the restaurant. The mural was Claudia’s idea.

“It was kind of easy to find different pictures of her and her self-portraits, so I reached out to this marketing company and said, ‘I have this crazy idea for a whole wall of Frida Kahlo,’ and they said to just send them the dimensions and the pictures I wanted and they made it happen,” she said.

As far as the menu is concerned, Nathanial tends to each individual plate with the same attention to detail and care as Kahlo applied to her artwork. To him, this is his art.

“Besides the decorations, the fire comes from the flavor of the food,” Claudia said. “He wanted to do Mexican cuisine and make it more modern. He wants to make colorful and different flavors that people will remember and keep coming back for.”

The menu changes every so often as Nathanial wants to try and experiment with different dishes to keep people on their toes. Currently, the most popular menu items are their stuffed poblano pepper with tomatoes, black beans and corn and the tacos de flores Jamaica which are tacos made with edible flowers marinated in a special blend of spices.

Claudia said soon they’ll start debuting different specials to gauge what people like and respond to. She said he wants to try and put a new spin on homemade tamales, including possibly a dessert tamale with the same edible flowers.

Claudia said it’s important to them to not only provide vegetarian-friendly menu items, but to create vegetarian and vegan dishes that everyone will be excited to order.

“Even the people who come in and say, ‘No, I’m a meat type of guy,’ they try the tacos de flores and they like it,” Claudia said.

They encourage people to take pictures of their food and the restaurant as Claudia said it is the best form of marketing.

“A lot of people do online selfies and post everything online, and that was one of the things we wanted to do with the restaurant,” she said. “We want people to share their pictures here.”

The restaurant is not serving alcohol yet, but Claudia said they hope to start soon so they can start serving homemade margaritas.

“We want to have margaritas, wine and beer,” she said. “We want people to come and celebrate life with us.”

Frida Kahlo Modern Mexican Cuisine is located at 3018 Pelham Pkwy Suite 101 and they are open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., and Sundays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. To see the full menu visit Fridakahlomodernmexicancuisine.com/.