By Tanya Henry
Transparency is one of those buzzwords that has suffered from massive overuse in recent times, but it might be the single best word to describe Fairfax’s newest addition to the dining scene. Más Masa opened at the end of November on Bolinas Road, and chef/owner Patrick Sheehy hopes that his fast casual concept will bring back corn—in a good way.
Sheehy describes the ancient grain as the most fascinating food in the world both for its botany and its history. The Manhattan Beach native spent almost two years in Chile, where along with teaching English and surfing, he discovered his love for South American cuisine. It was also in Chile—more specifically, in the lineup—where he met Will Eoff, who would become one of four partners to open the cheery and welcoming restaurant.
White enamel plateware with blue or red trim adds to the casual, clean look and feel of the space. Red cushions top metal chairs, and plenty of windows infuse a 48-seat room with light. A corn grinder (used for making housemade tortillas from special non-GMO corn) sits right at the door, and an open kitchen allows customers a full view of their meal preparation.
“I grew up with a burrito in one hand, and a surfboard or skateboard in the other,” says Sheehy, a Fairfax resident who appears genuinely excited to bring what he calls his “fun, healthy” restaurant to Marin. Not only did Sheehy take a deep dive into Chilean cuisine, he is also a recent graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, and did a stint with Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville.
Más Masa’s very manageable menu offers up a couple of salads, six entrée options and a few sides and desserts. As expected, corn is a central ingredient in almost every item—from hominy in a shaved kale salad, to a corn-based drink to a purple corn panna cotta dessert.
Will Eoff, the face of the front of the house, couldn’t be more engaging, and generously offers sample tastes of housemade specialties.
Two Al Pastor tacos of purple corn tortillas filled with succulent pork cooked in a guajillo adobo and roasted pineapple offered a satisfying medley of balanced flavors. Ceviche tacos of rockfish served with a crisp, bright salad and soupy beans topped with Cotija cheese needed more spice and backbone. Likewise, the winter squash tacos were brimming with warm, hearty squash, but were thin in the way of flavor.
With its all-things-corn concept, uber-friendly owners, enticing outdoor patio and a carefully curated list of interesting beer and wine—including a Fieldwork Brewing Co. IPA and pinot grigio from Monterey’s coveted Santa Lucia Highlands—I have no doubt that Más Mas will hit its stride sooner rather than later.