PHOTO COURTESY ELOTE CAFE
“I’ve known Jeff for 12 years,” says Don Carstens. “It was time to give him a new stage.” Carstens, the director of design at Pathangay Architects, is talking about Jeff Smedstad, the chef-owner of Elote Cafe in Sedona, Arizona.
Smedstad’s reputation for exceptional Mexican cuisine extends well beyond the charming, tourist-friendly red rocks of Sedona, so Carstens teamed up with Pathangay Architects to deliver Smedstad a new venue. The result is a horseshoe-shaped, freestanding building that encompasses 4,800 square feet of space outfitted with furnishings and fittings as authentic as the menu.
Case in point: the black-and-white floor tiles that pay tribute to indigenous blanket patterns and the 60-year-old, hand-carved eucalyptus bar top. “I wanted to highlight natural elements,” Carstens explains, citing hand-stitched leather seating and hand-hammered copper tables.
The result is a cohesive partnership between design and cuisine that is rooted in Mexican tradition.