The Hubbard-Richard neighborhood is gaining a modern, Mexican restaurant and bar this month. Following a few delays, Peso is on track to open by mid-April at the corner of Bagley and 18th Street kitty corner to Mexican Village Restaurant. When it debuts the restaurant will offer a fleet of exciting Mexican cocktails and a casual menu filled with burritos and tortas.
Peso, which gets its name from the roughly 8,000 Mexican pesos covering the bar top, is the first of two big projects from partners and longtime friends Eddie Vargas, Carlos Diaz de Leon, Jose Maldonado, Corey McIntosh, and Tony Lopez (whose family owns Cabresto Tequila). The team won the prestigious $50,000 prize from the Comerica Hatch Detroit competition in 2018 where they pitched a business plan for Toma Detroit — a Corktown tequila and mezcal bar heading to the shuttered Casey’s Pub.
McIntosh tells Eater that he and his partners were approached by building owner and Inlaws Hospitality restaurateur Jacques Driscoll (Green Dot Stables, Johnny Noodle King) while they were in the midst of the Hatch Competition. Driscoll, whose also a partner in Peso, proposed that they takeover his former Fist of Curry space. Although the restaurant itself wasn’t quite the right size for Toma, the opportunity to open in that location was too good for the group to pass up. Several months later as Peso approaches its opening, Toma is still in the planning stages. “I keep telling everybody it’s our second restaurant, first,” McIntosh says.
McIntosh and designer Marcela Cid Alcalde spearheaded the restaurant renovation with the overall goal of creating an atmosphere that felt like a modern Mexican bar without kitschy decorations. “We wanted to try to mimic just a bar that you might see in Mexico,” McIntosh says.
While the layout will feel relatively familiar to anyone who visited the two previous restaurant tenants, the look has been entirely updated with new pendant light fixtures, white painted brick walls, and a refreshed bar area with a maple paneled back bar. Strips of maple inlaid with LED lights add a colorful accent to the industrial ceilings. A neon sign reading “Make Tortas, Not War” hangs on the wall. The roughly 49-seat dining room now features banquettes and a mixture of two and four top tables rather than booths. Peso will eventually open a 20-seat patio along 18th Street later this spring.
Partner Eddie Vargas, a seasoned general manager who previously worked at El Barzon and Vertical Detroit, developed the restaurant menu. The core items will feature proteins ranging from birria to chile relleno to chicken milanese served as a California-style burrito, a torta, or as a traditional dish. Vargas says Peso is sourcing a special style of bolillo roll from Chilango’s Bakery on West Vernor Highway for the sandwiches. “It’s a bit saltier and harder than a regular bolillo for tortas,” Vargas says. Diners can also expect a variety of dishes from regions throughout Mexico such as Yucatan-style cochinita pibil with pork shoulder and achiote, fajitas, and American Tex-Mex chunky beef. Peso will also carry vegan chorizo, jicama salad, and several different types of guacamole.
On the bar side, Vargas has created 20 different margaritas for the Peso menu in flavors such as cucumber-cilantro, avocado, hibiscus, and tamarind. Those will be accompanied by five different cantaritos — a tequila cocktail from Jalisco that’s traditionally served in a clay mug during festivals. Peso will also offer a variety of Mexican beers on draft including a few craft beer options.
Peso’s team expects to start off with dinner hours when the restaurant opens later this month and will eventually add a weekend brunch menu with a michelada bar. Photographer Michelle Gerard took a tour of the renovated space ahead of the anticipated opening and got a peek at Peso’s extensive margarita menu. Take a look around the restaurant below.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Tony Lopez is no longer an owner in Cabresto Tequila, though his family continues to operate the spirits business.
• Mexican Bar and Restaurant Plans April Debut on Bagley Street [ED]
• Mexican Bar With Burritos and Tortas Lands in Former Fist of Curry Space [ED]
• All Openings Coverage [ED]
• All Eater Inside Coverage [ED]