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If you’re walking down Tank House Lane in the Distillery District, you can’t help but notice El Catrin (@elcatrinca), the newly opened Mexican tapas restaurant.

The patio

El Catrin features an enormous 5,000sq ft patio centred around a large fire pit. Walking inside the restaurant, you’ll find a lively atmosphere in the beautiful space designed by Munge Leung. Down one wall, you’ll find the country’s largest tequila and mezcal collections with over 140 brands and down the other wall, you’ll find a gorgeous mural by Oscar Flores who spent 6 weeks painting this masterpiece.

The interior

The partners behind the restaurant recruited Olivier Le Calvez (executive chef) from Mexico. He has quite the resume, working at some of the best hotels and restaurants in Mexico.

The featured mural

I attended a media preview dinner on Tuesday and was very impressed by what El Catrin had to offer. Here’s a look at our 8-course meal with cocktail pairings…

1st Course

Guacamole en la Mesa – avocado, tomato, red onion, fresh cilantro & Serrano chili

Guacamole en la Mesa

Nueces Picante – glazed pecans, peanuts and walnuts rubbed with a blend of three Mexican chilies

Nueces Picante

Traditional Margerita – Milagro Blanco, triple sec, agave nectar & citrus

Traditional Margerita

2nd Course

Ceviche de Atún – fresh tuna, lime juice, olive oil, watermelon, chive and habanero mignonette

Ceviche de Atún

Cuelve a la Vida el Catrin – east coast oyster with a ceviche of shrimp, octopus, bay scallops, red onion, cucumber, jicama and Acapulco cocktail sauce

Cuelve a la Vida el Catrin

Pepino Diablo – Milagro Blanco, muddled cucumber, Serrano peppers, agave nectar, citrus & a Tajin rim

Pepino Diablo

3rd Course

Tacos Al Pastor – corn tortilla filled with shaved pork marinated in axiote with pineapple, fresh cilantro and chopped onion

Tacos Al Pastor

Fuego Sandia – Tromba Blanco, St. Germaine, Agua Sandia, lemon juice & a Tajin rim

Fuego Sandia

4th Course

Tostada de Higado de Pato – hot seared foie gras, El Catrin made tostada, mexcal mango syrup, poblano and red onion relish

Tostada de Higado de Pato

Hibisco Rosa – Milagro Blanco, Patron Citronage, hibiscus syrup, rosewater & citrus

Hibisco Rosa

5th Course

Ensalada de Nopal – cactus salad, onion, tomato, fresh cilantro, radish with tequila lemon vinaigrette

Ensalada de Nopal

Mojito Reposado – Milagro Reposado, agave nectar, muddled mint, fresh lime & soda

Mojito Reposado

6th Course

Camarones al Ajillo – jumbo shrimp sautéed with guajillo, garlic, lime juice, white wine over red rice, black bean puree and guacamole

Camarones al Ajillo

Zarzamora – Jaral del Barrio Joven, Patron Citronage, muddled blackberries, cilantro & citrus


7th Course

Costilla Corta en Mole Negro – beef short rib braised 24 hours with black mole sauce, sweet potato puree, sautéed sugar snap peas

Costilla Corta en Mole Negro

Mayahuel – Milagro Reposado, Jagermiester, agave nectar, fresh lemon juice & ginger beer



Churros – cajeta, chocolate and strawberry mousse


Barra de Chocolat – doubled smoked and spiced hazelnut crunch chocolate bar

Barra de Chocolat

Agua de Coco – Patron café, Amarula, coconut water & lemon

Agua de Coco

The food highlights for me included the Cuelve a la Vida el Catrin which had a wonderful combination of seafood and flavours – I loved that it was centered around an oyster.

Another favourite was the Tostada de Higado de Pato. I never would’ve thought of putting foie gras on a tostada and the pairing of it with the sweet mango and onion relish worked so perfectly.

We also really enjoyed the Camarones al Ajillo which consisted of jumbo shrimp sitting on top of the most delicious and addictive rice.

I also have to mention the Costilla Corta en Mole Negro. The short rib was ridiculously tender and just melted in my mouth. The thick sauce coating the beef was equally delicious.

As for the cocktails, I have nothing but great things to say about them. Even if you’re not in the market for food while you’re in the Distillery District, I highly recommend stopping by for a drink (or two..or three..) on their patio. If I had to choose, my favourite cocktail was the Pepino Diablo. I love a cocktail with a little bit of a kick!

El Catrin’s got a lot going for it – an impressive space, delicious food and incredible cocktails!

*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post are my own.*

El Catrin Restaurant on Urbanspoon

  1. Jessica (Reply) on Saturday 27, 2013

    It looks amazing!! I’ll have to add this to my list of places to eat!