This has been a season for restaurant and business changes, from the sudden closure of Cambria Pub & Steakhouse and the longtime Pinetree Inn to the sale of Lily’s, the moving-target opening date for the upstairs restaurant at Centrally Grown, El Catrin Mexican Restaurant starting up four months ago in the space that used to be Woodie’s Pizza, the move of Harmony Cafe to the Pewter Plough Playhouse from Harmony and the new home for former Sebastian’s operators Brian and Abbey Lucas at their already super busy but not-yet-named ‘Café’ on Bridge Street.
As time and space allow, The Cambrian will feature some or all of those.
This week’s update is about El Catrin, upstairs in the Cambria Galleria building, 1069 Main St. at Cambria Drive.
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The rustic cafe already is doing a brisk take-out business, and the number of eat-in diners is rapidly increasing as word spreads about what owners Julio and Martha Lopez refer to as “Julio’s Authentic Mexican Food.”
Chef Julio Lopez is no newcomer to Cambria’s dining scene: He worked in the kitchen at Las Cambritas for 14 years, he said, part of that time as the eatery’s head cook.
But he yearned to branch out, he said May 31, and El Catrin’s menu is his own creation. Among its highlights are tender corn tortillas made by hand daily, and Lopez’s small-batch, artisanal sauces … a lightly tart, not-too-spicy tomatillo sauce, for instance, and rich, dark mole.
El Catrin is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from
8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The menu includes familiar entrees, some of which have nontraditional taste profiles. There also are a couple of chorizo and egg breakfast dishes, tortas, weekend menudo, birria (a stew from Jalisco) and a garnacha tortilla bowl with chili verde.
Lopez also puts his own twist on something as simple as Spanish rice, which takes on an unusually rich flavor from sauteed onions, garlic and tomatoes, or as complex as his delicate fish enchiladas drenched in that tomatillo sauce. In fact, there are quite a few fish and seafood entrees on the menu.
For details or to order take-out, call 927-0707.
Meanwhile, according to new manager John Raethke, the Pub should reopen in mid-June, keeping many of the eatery’s most popular dishes but adding some new ones. A beachy-surf vibe will replace the cowboy decor.
According to Centrally Grown staff, June 10 is the latest target for a soft opening of the upstairs restaurant, featuring tapas, flatbreads and a chef’s special, local wines and artisan cocktails. Diners have for some time been able to purchase their food in the main-floor deli and take it upstairs or outside to eat.
The future of the former Burton Drive landmark, The Brambles Dinner House, is now firmly in the hands of Dirk Winter and his son Bram Winter. The latter said May 19 that they’re chipping away at various issues at the county level, and expect to have a permit for selective demolition within a week or so. That permit would allow them to poke holes in the walls to check what’s behind and in them and learn what issues there are, for instance, in terms of bearing walls, materials damage, etc.
The project apparently remains the same as it has been since Dirk Winter submitted the plans: converting the existing building into a bistro-style cafe with some hotel rooms behind it, with a separate boutique hotel on the northeast side of the large property on Burton Drive at the bridge across the creek and another retail building near Oliver’s Twist.
Other possible changes
According to various online listings, including the Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service, among other Cambria businesses that have been or are on the market, are/were: Soto’s Market, Moonstones All-American Craft Gallery, San Simeon Pines Resort, Olallieberry Inn, Burton Inn, Allocco’s Italian Bakery, Windrush Bed & Breakfast, Redwood Center, Music Box, All American Video and St. Mary Mead.