The cantina sits at 2320 Jazz Alley, in between J and K and 23rd and 24th streets. A brick wall with a large door made of wood handcrafted in Mexico separates the cantina from the alley, but holds no roof. Though there is a glass garage door to enclose the bar area in inclement weather, the cantina’s tile-floored interior is mostly open-air.
What looks like a Mexican street scene is enhanced by bright blue, orange and yellow paint on walls, and by the pedicab and paletería ice cream cart parked just inside the front entrance. Both currently are empty but eventually will be put into use, Cantina Alley co-owner Art Aguilar said on Wednesday.
“We wanted to create a memory of Mexico, whether you were born in Mexico, or you have visited,” Aguilar said of the design.
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The cantina, built from the ground up in what once was a back yard, was in the works for more than two years. Delays in getting city approval slowed the project, Aguilar said.
Aguilar and business partner Max Archuleta soft-opened the cantina last week with a limited menu that includes pozole verde, elote and Baja tacos. The bar currently is serving a house-special margarita, a few other craft cocktails and Mexican draft and bottled beers.
The cantina will have its grand opening around Cinco De Mayo, Aguilar said, with a menu highlighting Pueblan cuisine. The street-food menu later will highlight other regional Mexican cuisines as well.
Aguilar, a native of Querétaro, Mexico, formerly partnered in midtown’s now-closed MVP Sports Grill, and in a Woodland deli. He also owned an art gallery on Del Paso Boulevard. His art-world experience shows in the many works by local artists decorating Cantina Alley.
The bar is topped by a distinctive collection of tiles made from photographs, taken by Ruben Briseño Reveles, depicting Mexican street scenes. A mural by Shaun Burner and Miguel Perez on the cantina’s exterior side wall pays tribute to Mexican muralist Jorge González Camarena.
Just outside the cantina’s back gate is a full-body mural by Joshua Peregrina of the late, larger-than-life lucha libre wrestling star El Santo (Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta).
“He is an icon,” Aguilar said of El Santo, who starred in movies and was featured in comic books.
For more information, including hours of operation, call 916-936-2320.