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.