La Cantina Mexican Restaurant Opens in Downtown’s Former Cheapside Cafe | Food News | Cincinnati

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Photo: Courtesy of Crown Restaurant Group

The exterior of La Cantina

The old downtown Cheapside Cafe space is coming back to life thanks to the local Crown Restaurant Group (Crown Republic Gastropub, Losanti, Rosie’s Cocktails & Pies).

It is now home to La Cantina, a restaurant offering a self-proclaimed mix of “authentic, contemporary Mexican cuisine and cocktails.”

Chef Johnny Curiel, recently executive chef of Nada, brings his years of experience and his “modern and authentic” Mexican style to the new restaurant.

A description states that “what sets La Cantina apart from other south-of-the-border-inspired restaurants in the city is its unique blend of authentic Mexican flavors and ingredients that are bold yet accessible and 100% gluten-free” .

La Cantina started as a pop-up at the Crown Republic Gastropub in July last year, with chef/owner Anthony Sitek of Curiel and CRG at the helm. The menu included dishes such as Elote, Baja Fish Tacos and Chicken Mole. And the full restaurant will offer similar inspiration.

Click to enlarge Inside La Cantina - PHOTO: SUPPLIED BY CROWN RESTAURANT GROUP

Photo: Courtesy of Crown Restaurant Group

Inside The Canteen

“When we saw the support and excitement for the La Cantina pop-ups this summer, we knew there was something special here,” CRG’s Sitek said in a statement. “With everything we do at Crown Restaurant Group, we believe that delicious and inspiring cuisine should be an inclusive experience that people from all walks of life can share together.”

The restaurant’s menu currently lists dishes including tacos ranging from pastor or lamb barbacoa to smoked brisket or sweet potato. Entrees range from cold-smoked tuna crudo with mesquite and grilled oysters with queso fundido. Main dishes include carne asada, chicken mole, and enchilada verdes.

The cocktail program emphasizes mezcal and tequila, with more than 50 agave-based spirits. La Cantina also offers Mexican coca, Topo Chico and horchata.

La Cantina is currently open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday.

La Cantina is located at 326 E. Eighth St., Downtown. For more information or to see the full menu, visit

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