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Smorgasburg Sensations Saucy Chick and Goat Mafia Join Forces at New Pasadena Restaurant

The two pop-up superstars take over the former Tacocita space in East Pasadena

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An assortment of dishes at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia restaurant in Pasadena, California.
An assortment of dishes at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.
Saucy Chick Goat Mafia
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

The new Pasadena restaurant from pop-up sensations Saucy Chick and Goat Mafia opens today, October 18, in the former Tacocita space on Rosemead Boulevard. Los Angeles always welcomes a pop-up to permanent transition and the Saucy Chick Goat Mafia collaboration could be a shining example of how to navigate the high cost of operating a restaurant in Southern California.

Rhea Patel Michel and Marcel Michel launched Saucy Chick in 2020 and linked up with Goat Mafia chefs Ivan Flores and Juan Garcia at Smorgasburg where both were vending. Most recently, the two businesses operated together at a leased space on West Third Street; the residency ended in August and proved to be an excellent test run for working together in a more permanent setting.

“How do the four of us do this together and what does it look like? [Goat Mafia] is also Mexican food, so it kind of works since [Saucy Chick] is already Mexican Indian,” says Rhea. “We genuinely love each other. There’s definitely, like, that same village mentality approach of winning together.”

The menu at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia reflects the restaurant’s collaborative spirit. Goat Mafia’s birria de chivo bowl, which is based on a 100-year-old family recipe for birria from Compton-native Garcia, contains cumin (jeera) rice, Peruvian Mayocoba beans, and house-made corn tortillas. Saucy Chick’s 24-hour brined rotisserie chicken comes with a choice of Mexican pibil or Indian jeera sauces. The restaurant’s tacos are filled with pibil, asada, and haldi cauliflower. For dessert are Lei’d Cookies, another Smorgasburg vendor that recently opened a permanent store in Culver City. Horchata masala chai is on hand for washing everything down.

“It really leans into busy folks on the go that just want good food,” says Rhea, who is the daughter of Indian refugees from Uganda. Seating includes a handful of tables and a counter inside, and a cozy patio out front. With its merging of culinary cultures and communal can-do spirit, Saucy Chick Goat Mafia is a quintessentially LA story.

For the first week of operations, Saucy Chick Goat Mafia is open from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at 203 S. Rosemead Boulevard, Pasadena, CA, 91107, then from 11 p.m. to 8 p.m. onward. The restaurant is closed on Mondays and operates at Smorgasburg on Sundays.

Saucy Chick Goat Mafia chef Ivan Flores cooks in his kitchen.
Chef Ivan Flores.
Saucy Chick Goat Mafia
The entry sign that says “Scratch crafted Mexican and Indian eats” and “Free range chicken rotisserie, birria chivo” at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia restaurant in Pasadena.
Saucy Chick Goat Mafia
The sign for Saucy Chick Goat Mafia restaurant in Pasadena.
Saucy Chick Goat Mafia

Saucy Chick Goat Mafia

203 S Rosemead Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91107 Visit Website