Bringing an international flair to San Marcos, the diverse dishes at Komal Latin Kitchen + Bar are a small representation of the experience of the man behind the restaurant. After extensive travels through Central and South America, owner Rolando Osorio has brought home flavors from far away.
Komal opened in September 2017, though Osorio’s restaurant experience goes further back. When his family left El Salvador as political refugees during the Salvadoran civil war in the 1980s, they encouraged Osorio to get an education.
“I paid for my studies by working as a chef in Chicago,” Osorio said. “I would make up my own dishes sometimes, and everyone loved them.”
After receiving a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, Osorio worked in the field before beginning his own business ventures. He jokes that he didn’t get a master’s to go back to the kitchen, but his love of food led him there anyway.
“I loved to go out to eat,” he said. “I wanted to love the food and the service; I want to feel like a VIP when I walk in somewhere.”
Osorio said he had the idea for the restaurant 15 years before bringing it to fruition.
“This restaurant represents me, my background and my passions,” he said. “It’s a summary of my last 20-30 years.”
Komal is part Brazilian-style steakhouse, but the restaurant also offers a menu that includes ceviche, Salvadoran pupusas and more. New dishes like the Cuban tostones were added after Osorio traveled through Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guatemala this past summer for inspiration.
“I have tried every single dish on the menu in the country it’s from,” he said. “We get as close as we can to the original ingredients, too.”
Though the staff is educated on each dish, Osorio enjoys visiting with guests and explaining the passion behind every item at Komal.
The restaurant also showcases his love for the people in his life. His 3-year-old son’s name, Rino, glows on the sign leading up the stairs to the sports bar.
“He is the love of my life,” Osorio said.
There is special meaning behind many elements of the restaurant, from the name, which is a unique spelling of a traditional clay grill, to the logo, a Mayan symbol for food.
Osorio credits Rino’s adopted grandmother, Gloria Molina, for much of the success of the restaurant. Molina helps care for Rino and also cooks at Komal. Osorio is beginning a food product line based on her recipes called Abu Tuly— a nickname that means “grandmother tulip.”
“She embodies everything I want my food to be,” Osorio said.
Komal Latin Kitchen + Bar
2550 Hunter Road, Ste. 1106, San Marcos
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-3 p.m.