First Look: Licha’s Cantina

One of the most disappointing, though not entirely unsurprising, closures of last year was East Austin Mexican restaurant Papi Tino’s. Its former location, situated in the heart of East Austin, is now home to the promising Licha’s Cantina. After brightening up the space and opening the back patio, owner Daniel Brooks quietly opened the new restaurant just prior to SXSW, drawing on his Mexico roots in developing the cantina concept.

Licha's Cantina

Licha’s Cantina

Roasted Duck Tacos - $12

Roasted Duck Tacos – $12

Having earned his stripes as the GM at Austin’s Vespaio, it should have come as no surprise to find the service at Licha’s Cantina to be exceptional. The gracious and friendly staff helps create a welcoming atmosphere one can’t wait to return to again and again. Our server was also well versed on the components of each dish and extremely helpful making recommendations.

Far from your ordinary Mexican food menu, Licha’s Cantina’s menu features a number of interior Mexican street food dishes that have been elevated through unexpected ingredients and flavors. A perfect example of this was the Thai curry-inspired manchamanteles featuring a winning combination of sweet pineapples, spicy chiles, and tender pork.

Manchamanteles - $14

Manchamanteles – $14

We started with an order of sopecitos featuring a mixture of pulled chicken and cabbage drizzled with lime and creme fraiche. Layered on top of a thick (yet supple) masa cake, it was an excellent way to kick off the meal. Next came a black bean and cheese stuffed tlacoyo, or blue masa cake, topped with a delicious red mole sauce and shrimp.

Sopecitos - $9

Sopecitos – $9

As for the other entrée orders, we were more than happy with both the roasted duck and al pastor taco platters. Each dish featured a satisfying skillet of deliciously spicy taco filling and fresh tortillas. Best described as a Mexican-style pizza, the champinon huarache, topped with a blend of roasted mushrooms, a spicy peanut sauce, and melted queso asadero, was another hit of the night.

Champinon Huarache - $8

Champinon Huarache – $8

Overall, the new eatery is off to a very encouraging start. With its reasonable price points and upbeat atmosphere, Licha’s Cantina is an ideal spot for a small group dinner or date night.

Visit Licha’s Cantina Tuesday-Saturday 4pm-2am at 1306 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78702 http://lichascantina.com

Licha's Amazing Salsa

Licha’s Amazing Salsa

Al Pastor Tacos - $12

Al Pastor Tacos – $12

Tlacoyos - $8

Tlacoyos – $8

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