It’s never Taco Tuesday at Maiz. Not at its current location on King Street, and not when it moves at the end of January.

“We have a no-taco policy at the moment, to really push the idea that Mexican food is more than that,” says co-owner Juan Carlos Negrete Lopez. Even a few years ago, that idea would have been bonkers bad for business, but thanks to pioneering spots such as The Tamaleria, Nu’u by Nativo, No. 92 and, of course, Maiz itself, it’s no longer that radical a concept.

Sydney’s Mexican cuisine fluency is now on another level. So Maiz – which started as a stall at the Summer Hill market before graduating to its current location on King Street – is doubling down on the authenticity and commitment to corn in all its forms (except tacos, sorry).

Complete our survey for the chance to win a $1000 Broadsheet Gift Card.

TAKE THE SURVEY

“It’s given us incentive to push our creativity further and express our unique style of cooking,” Negrete Lopez says. “I’m tempted to go more traditional than ever.”

And Maiz is going to be doing that from a brand new home on Enmore Road, in the space that Hartsyard (and more recently, Irene’s) once occupied. At the Enmore Road Maiz, the huaraches, enmoladas, sopes and tetelas that make up the corny soul of its menu aren’t going anywhere.

“We’re still really pushed by the idea of showcasing everything that can be done with corn,” Negrete Lopez says. “So we’re keeping our heroes.”

But expect the toppings and sauces that accompany those heroes to speak, to an even greater extent than before, to Negrete Lopez’s Baja Californian heritage, as well as his experiences living and working in Puebla, Mexico City, Oaxaca and Veracruz.

Aside from becoming Enmore Road’s new corn hub, Maiz is also looking to stake its claim on agave drinks. “I don’t think there’s anyone in Enmore at the moment focusing on agaves. Jacoby’s is a great tiki bar, and you have Bar Planet doing really good Martinis – we want to be able to offer agaves to people.”

The range of tequilas and mezcals will focus on quality rather than quantity, as well as seasonal mezcal infusions (Negrete Lopez is already tinkering around with one infused with native bush herbs). The folks at Yulli’s are also brewing Maiz 2.0’s in-house lager, which has a strong chance of featuring corn. To accompany its bigger focus on booze, Maiz Enmore Road will have later opening hours than its predecessor, as well as the odd DJ set.

The old Maiz and its homey feel and courtyarded building will be a vibe of the past. Interior designers Guru Projects are stripping the Hartsyard space down, elongating the entrance bar and implementing a simpler style. “We want it to be minimalistic – like a mix between Scandinavian and Oaxacan vibes,” Negrete Lopez says. “Very natural, earthy materials with rough stone rendering.”

Making the restaurant less visually busy will draw the eye towards the colourful Mexican artworks that will hang throughout the space.

With its new location, improved menu and greater emphasis on drinks, the team of Negrete Lopez and his partner Freija Brandie, his sister Marissa Negrete and her partner Carlos Levet are closer than ever to realising the Maiz vision that started with a market stall.

“King Street allowed us to build a family business from scratch during Covid and get a name in Sydney – we’ve been really grinding and pushing to cook and share our food. At Enmore Road, we’re going to take all that, refine it, and keep pushing our culture.”

Maiz will close on King Street in December 2023 and reopen at 33 Enmore Road towards the end of January 2024.

@maizstreetfood