Don’t you know that things go in cycles? Two restaurants hoping to bless downtown Charleston with more Spanish flavors are set to open on Spring Street in late winter 2019, but Malagon and Estadio have been sprung from different backgrounds and have a slightly different approach.
Here’s the rundown on what we know for both.
33 Spring St. Downtown
Restaurateurs Patrick and Fanny Panella of Chez Nous have partnered with current Chez Nous sous chef Juan Cassallet for their new concept Malagón, a Spanish market and tapas spot.
“I think we’re bringing probably the first really authentic Spanish restaurant [to Charleston],” Patrick Panella says, citing Cassallet’s culinary influence from his Spanish heritage. “We’ve spent a lot of time in Spain. I think it’ll be a Spanish experience that Charleston has sorely been lacking.”
The market will be a specialty gourmet grocery store, Panella says, and carry items such as canned fish, olives, rice, and spices common in Spanish cuisine.
“Nowhere locally can you get these things,” Panella says. “We’ll be the only place you can get these products.”
As for the taperia, Panella says, “We have the menu figured out. It’s not going to be a lot of cliché dishes. There will be some classics but also some dishes you’ll find in Galicia or areas that are not Americanized versions of Spanish food.”
The dining space will be intimate. “We’re not sure of the total number of seats, but it’ll be small,” Panella says. “Think Chez Nous.”
Malagón will be open from 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Panella is aiming for a late winter 2019 opening.
“We’re really shooting for end of January, early February,” he says. “I don’t see a reason we’ll delay that, unless there are staffing issues.”
122 Spring St. Downtown
Estadio’s flagship restaurant in Washington, D.C., has garnered positive reviews over the years, earning spots on Eater’s 38 Essential D.C. Restaurants and Food & Wine‘s Best Date Restaurants in D.C. Owner Max Kuller is now bringing the Spanish tapas bar concept to Charleston, a stone’s throw from Malagón, but with a Lowcountry twist.
“One of the things that’ll be special about what we are doing in Charleston is focusing on rice-based Spanish dishes,” he says. “We’re looking for interesting ways to use Carolina Gold Rice and we want to showcase Spanish rice dishes, because it makes sense down there.”
D.C.’s Estadio location only serves paella on Wednesdays, but it’ll be an everyday offering at the Charleston location, Kuller says.
Alex Lira, formerly of The Lot and Bar Normandy, also signed on for the restaurant’s development.
Estadio’s seafood entrees will also differ from those in D.C. due to Charleston’s local seafood selection. Rather than serving a shrimp dish on the D.C. menu year-round, Kuller says, the Charleston restaurant will use local, in-season shrimp and rotate other seafood as seasonality changes.
Kuller hopes to open in late winter 2019. Hours of operation will be from 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., seven days a week.
Between the main inside dining room, the bar, a counter with a view into the kitchen, and a patio, the restaurant will seat 50 guests.
“We’re excited to expose people to traditional Spanish cuisine. That’s not to say that Charleston doesn’t have Spanish cuisine, but we think we’re certainly going to expand the horizons of what’s available in Charleston in terms of Spanish cuisine and these flavors that aren’t always so common,” Kuller says. For example, pimentón, a smoky Spanish paprika, will be featured in several dishes.
“Overall, it’ll be a deeper celebration of Spanish cuisine,” Kuller says. “I think it’s very relatable because it’s Mediterranean cuisine. I think [for] people who like Italian and Greek food and other Southern European cuisine, Spanish food is very natural, and they have the core ingredients like tomatoes and olives and fish.”