A vast, illustrated chalkboard takes pride of place above the bar at Max’s, reminding visitors that the Queen Street stalwart was this summer chosen as the home of the official Banksy Margarita. 

It’s quite the claim to fame, with thousands of the Irn-Bru-infused cocktails reportedly sold since the elusive street artist first gave them his seal of approval. 

And yet there was even bigger news still from the team this month, as they revealed plans to introduce a new concept menu for the first time in over a decade and rebrand as Max's Bar and Cantina.

The Herald:

Leading the major shakeup is Joe Grant, who has recently stepped into the role of executive chef for the Allied Leisure Group which also operates the bustling Mikaku restaurant just a few doors down. 

Placing a selection of colourful dishes on the table as staff members readied the venue for another busy Thursday, he said: “I’m really excited about what we’re going to do here at Max’s. 

“This is a concept that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and I think it fits with the aesthetic. 

“It’s a cool little place that has a bit of a dive bar feel, which is far from a bad thing. 

“There’s no need to go all out and turn it into a themed bar with cactuses or waiters wearing sombreros just because we’re introducing Mexican food. 

“That would be a bit cliched, wouldn’t it?” 

The Herald:

Grant is new to the city, having grown up in York with aspirations of becoming a painter and later discovering a love for cooking while working to pay his way through art college in Manchester. 

Although still getting used to his Scottish surroundings, there’s no mistaking a confidence that’s been burgeoned by years of working for and alongside industry heavyweights such as James Martin, Antonio Carluccio and Tom Kerridge. 

“It’s not my first rodeo”, he replied when asked if he was experiencing any nerves ahead of introducing his new Mexican offering at Max’s. 

“I’ve launched a few concept menus during my time in both London and Manchester. 

“I’ve also done a lot of Pan Asian food before so have been busy working on some new things over at Mikaku which will come to fruition in the new year. 

“There are actually some similarities between the two cuisines. 

“A lot of what people assume is Japanese is actually Nikkei, which is a sort of South American fusion using ingredients like avocado or chillies as a result of people going over there to live after the war. 

“No matter what we’re cooking, for me, the main aim is to use fresh, vibrant ingredients and do as much as possible from scratch. 

“There’s nothing worse than soulless food and the way I see it is if you’re not even making your own salsa then you might as well shut up shop."


The Herald:

A quick rundown of the plates he had prepared in the kitchen that morning while a huge delivery of Corona beer was stashed away for next week's launch party celebrations certainly seemed promising. 

The Birria tacos, for example, are made with beef that’s been cooked in a rich stock loaded with smoky dried chillies before it's wrapped in a freshly made tortilla with cheese and served alongside a meaty dip for dunking. 

Almost the equivalent of a soup and sandwich, he joked. Although the sad British counterpart seems far less appetising in comparison. 

Another surprise is that nearly all of his dishes will have a vegan alternative, while the perfectly circular tortillas are in fact completely gluten-free thanks to a Masa flour base that gives them a satisfying, golden hue. 

The Herald:

Acknowledging that such a huge gear change for the kitchen at Max’s may have invited some scepticism from its regulars, Grant said: “You’re always going to have a few people who will say they miss burgers or fried chicken in baskets, but you can get that at so many other places in the city. 

“This is a great team to work for and they have a real vision for what they want the place to be. 

“I’m here to help them do that, and I’m confident that it will do well.” 

Max’s Bar and Cantina is located at 73 Queen Street in Glasgow with the new concept menu available from Tuesday, November 14.

For further updates find them on social media here