Astoria, Mexican, Restaurants
Apr 21, 2017

Tulum-Influenced Las Catrinas Mexican Restaurant To Open on Broadway

Mexican bar and eatery, Las Catrinas, is opening on Broadway later this month!

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The other day I came across a fun article by our friend Jeanmarie Evelly on DNAinfo about a “taco ATM” coming to Astoria. Well, I had to learn more about it, so I reached out to the folks at Las Catrinas, a new Mexican restaurant opening up in the old PS Pizza/Italian Bistro space (which used to be the Euro Delights crepe place a while ago) on Broadway, home to the upcoming taco ATM. Their Manager/PR wonder, Athena Angelopoulos, was kind enough to answer my questions (while fighting off the flu, even), and I’m thrilled to bring you more info about the place straight from the source.

cemitas-las-catrinas-mexican-restaurant-broadway-astoria-queensCemita Milanesa de Res, made with beef cutlet. Photo credit: Las Catrinas Mexican Bar & Eatery

The owners are names and faces some of you might recognize—they would be Dino Philippou, Taso Pavlou, Lukasz Szydlowski and Leopoldo Tapia. Dino used to own the popular Astoria club/lounge Cavo. “He decided to hang up his nightclub crown and venture off into the foodie world,” explains Athena. She also provided an additional detail: “Alongside Las Catrinas, he also opening up QNS Organic Bakery & Cafe, which is located on 31st Street between Ditmars and 23rd Avenue. It is set to open (hopefully) end of June 2017.”

I asked about the restaurant’s name, which has origins in Tulum, Mexico—a community on the Riviera Maya, located near the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo. It’s known for its ruins and “tranquil and earthy relaxed vibe,” in Athena’s words. You may have vacationed there yourself at one time or another. “Many people, especially Europeans, travel to Tulum because it’s the perfect blend of Mexican culture, food made of raw local ingredients, serene beach settings and wonderful nature preserves,” Athena says.

“Playing off of the hand crafted European feel of Tulum, we decided to name the restaurant ‘Las Catrinas,’” she explains. “The name stems from La Calavera Catrina (“Elegant Skull”), which was etched by famous Mexican printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada. The image depicts a female skeleton dressed in a hat stylized after the upper class outfit of a European from her time of 1910-1913. She has become an icon of the Mexican Dia de Muertos, (Day of the Dead).”

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Quesadilla with carne asada. Photo credit: Las Catrinas Mexican Bar & Eatery

She talked a little about the restaurant’s design. “While designing Las Catrinas, we had the idea in mind of bringing that exact feel [of life in Tulum] to NYC,” says Athena. “Being able to have that go-to place to visit after work, on the weekends or any time of the day is essential to any lifestyle. We’d like to call ourselves an ‘eatery staycation,’ a place where you can feel like you’re away from all the hustle and bustle. The design of our teal colored doors were inspired by Tulum’s jungle cenote lagoons. The cenotes are water holes produced by a process of dissolution and collapse of limestone terrain. They are located above an underground network of caves and rivers in and around Tulum.”

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Nopal salad. Photo credit: Las Catrinas Mexican Bar & Eatery

Tulum influences their menu. Their chef, Mexican native Leopoldo Tapia, will be looking to Tulum-style street food for inspiration, as well as his own family’s cookbook. Athena remarks, “Chef Tapia—or as we like to call him, El Jefe (The Boss)—believes in using only the freshest ingredients and makes everything in house, including the salsas, tortillas and chips.” Their Facebook page indicates a variety of the taste treats that will be available—ceviche, tacos, quesadillas, cemitas, and a nopal (cactus pad) salad.

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Ceviche! Photo credit: Las Catrinas Mexican Bar & Eatery

They definitely pride themselves on having everything being homemade, and Athena breaks the news about their guacamole, too. “We’ve 86’d the commercial tactic of using a molcajete!” Huh? She explains: “Most Mexican restaurants hype up the experience of getting your guacamole made table side. Don’t get us wrong, we think that’s pretty cool—but, to us that’s not authentic Mexican. On top of that, we also believe it’s unsanitary. When using a molcajete, it is crucial to disinfect it after each use by putting it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Realistically, most restaurants don’t do that and what people don’t understand is that they’re not only enjoying a guacamole for two, but also with the hundreds of others who have dipped their chips prior to their own foodie experience.”

This was definitely a surprise to me, since, yes, a lot of places hype the molcajete detail.

Athena says not to worry about the freshness of the guac—they plan for it to be on point. They look forward to serving it to you along with a delicious cocktail. “Las Catrinas will be the new go-to spot for a deliciously refreshing margarita—on the rocks or even frozen!” explains Athena. They also want to show off their large tequila collection in a variety of mixed drinks. And she adds, ”You’ll be able to enjoy one of our signature cocktails in our outdoor succulent and herb garden located in front of the venue during our warmer seasons.” Happy hour is in the plans—and don’t forget about late night tacos from the taco ATM, too!

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Al Pastor taco. Photo credit: Las Catrinas Mexican Bar & Eatery

Their projected soft opening is April 28, and they also have a huge Cinco de Mayo fiesta in the works.

So there you have it. We hope you have a chance to check them out later this month!

Las Catrinas Mexican Bar & Eatery (32-02 Broadway, Astoria)
lascatrinasnyc.com | Facebook | Instagram

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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