Jessica Evans has spent months pouring her blood, sweat and tears into transforming a downtown Albany, NY space into an urban Mexican haunt. ama cocina, translated from Spanish as “she loves cooking” is Evans’ brainchild. Drawing inspiration from the tianguis [open-air pop up food truck & wares markets] of Mexico, the restaurant envelops a modern Mexican street food concept. With music pouring out onto the sidewalk from the open garage style doors, the giant portrait of Frida Kahlo greeting you as you walk in, and the hand-painted Mexican tile beneath your feet, you feel like you’re stepping out of the Mercado de San Juan and stopping for a moment to enjoy some food and a drink with friends.
The materials and finishes, created by at least ten local artisans and artists, offer the space a welcome mix of texture and contrast. During the renovation Evans not only collaborated with the construction team, but often picked up a sledgehammer or metal sander herself to get the job done right.
Thoughtful and subtle details, like the salvaged oil lamp light pendants, and the shapes of street signs built into the bar back are what give this space its inviting and warm energy.
Reclaimed pallet sliding doors closes off a meeting space, and hand-painted geometric concrete tiles spill into the wood floor.
A local graffiti artist adds colorful sugar skulls on the bathroom walls.
All in all, the ama cocina is the place to be for a high energy atmosphere and gourmet street food.