El Catrin Restaurant & Bar
The Well-Dressed Flavors of El Catrin
By Meredith Kay
Photography by Al Rendon
When you walk through the doors at El Catrin, it’s the simplicity of the interior that hits you first. There are only a few pictures on display, but they each make a statement against the white walls and black accents. The clean lines of the restaurant seem to say, “In this place, the food takes center stage,” and with one bite, you will agree completely.
El Catrin is a Spanish term for a dandy, or well-dressed gentleman. The restaurant’s owner, Federico Guillen, is from the Mexican state of Michoacán, which lies west of Mexico City and spreads out to the Pacific coast. The name was inspired by the Lotería card, El Catrin, and Guillen wanted to bring the authentic flavors of his homeland to San Antonio. The menu features the unique flavors and family recipes that he grew up with, and along with head chef Raul Flores, they have created an outstanding culinary experience that will have you returning again and again.
Federico immigrated to San Antonio with his family nearly 30 years ago, and he spent 20 years working at Rosario’s, learning the restaurant business and fine-tuning his unparalleled customer service. His wife, Cendy, is a native of Alamo Heights and grew up attending the same local schools that their two children, Mateo (8) and Sofia (6), will attend. Federico also has an older son named Federico (28), who lives in San Antonio and works closely with his father at the restaurant.
Guillen says, “My wife grew up in Alamo Heights and attended school here, and we wanted to bring authentic flavors from my homeland to the hometown community that she grew up in.”
The neon sign on the back wall of the restaurant reads, “I Love Chilaquiles,” and one bite of El Catrin’s chilaquiles will make you a believer. The over-the-top flavor embodied by both the verde and rojo sauces featured in this dish pairs perfectly with the crispy tortilla chips, fresh queso, red onions, and perfectly cooked egg that tops off the dish. Their extensive menu features brunch items all day long, and the restaurant maintains a full bar with some of the best margaritas, mangonadas, and mimosas in town.
The restaurant, which occupies the space of the former Adelante, has been well-received by the community, and the interior remodel is classic and understated in order to let the food take the spotlight. The menu is very large and features everything from coastal favorites like ceviche and several regional and authentic fish and shrimp dishes to flavorful caldos and specialty enchiladas. Everything on the menu is prepared from fresh ingredients, so expect to relax, soak up the atmosphere, and let yourself be transported south of the border for a memorable meal that will leave you craving to explore every item on the menu. And, really, order the chilaquiles. They are THAT good.
21 Brees Blvd. @ N. New Braunfels
Monday & Tuesday 9:00A-9:00P
Wednesday to Saturday 9:00A-10:00P