Food, Wine & Spirits in St. Louis

Thursday, September 22, 2011 / 8:10 AM

Amigos' Sister Restaurant, La Cantina, Comes to the East Loop

Amigos' Sister Restaurant, La Cantina, Comes to the East Loop

Photograph by Katherine Bish


Give Robert Trevino (SLM's Q&A here) of Amigo's Cantina credit for bringing Mexican food to a suburb (Kirkwood) that surprisingly had none. And matching the fare with what some, like us, consider the most well-balanced--and strongest--margarita in town didn't hurt. We christened it the "Edgarita" after bartender Edgar Dominguez, the man with the heavy tequila hand. Amigo's—and Dominguez—has made countless friends since its opening 3 years ago.    

The lovefest continues...

After rejecting possible sites in Midtown and West County, Trevino found a building well-suited for his second restaurant, in the East Loop, in the same building where Mike Del Pietro's Tavolo V will be located. (Credit a Tweet from SPACE Architects and Ian Froeb's follow-up post for first news.) 

Trevino's goal is to make La Cantina stand apart from other cantinas. And it just looks like it may...

The will be one main entree, the parilla, a combination of rotisserie-cooked meats and/or charbroiled steak, brought to the table on a hot iron skillet, a spritz of lime juice added to amp up the volume--literally. Anyone familiar with sizzling fajitas (or even the snapping, popping skillet of mussels that leaves Harvest's kitchen) knows the sound. A complimentary half-ounce shot of tequila will be served along with the parilla, with simple instructions: shoot and SALUT! (We suspect that Dominguez had a hand in this clever amuse bouche).

The rest of the menu consists of botanas, little bites, Mexican tapas, if you must--anticuchos (grilled skewers of meat), stuffed peppers, tostadas, empanadas, and traditional Mexican table tacos (meats served in small bowls with tortillas and add-ins).

If there's a theme to this cantina, it's the vaquero, the Mexican cowboy, and "the first cowboy in the US, too" reminds Trevino. Server garb will be blue jeans and cowboy boots; horseshoes and iron stars will be embedded into the bartop; and different types of spurs and cowboy bric-a-brac will adorn the walls.  

The vaquero theme is carried through even to the music: Trevino has already downloaded some rancho music (Mexican country music) that will be interspersed with old and current country music from our side of the border. 

A secluded, 40-seat patio will be built on one side of the building, not along the sidewalk, as is the norm in the Loop. And the patio will be 100% non-smoking, as is the patio at Amigo's. 

The lease has been signed and construction should commence shortly, so look for La Cantina to bow sometime in the spring.  

Trevino says if you are familiar with "an old cantina in a cattle town, where people enjoy simple food, good friends, and strong drinks," you'll feel at home. To which we say: SALUT!

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