OK, first off, were taking reservations for Valentines Day, the menu isn't finalized but it is on the website in draft form.
We've been getting some exposure lately, much of it positive, but some of it puzzlingly out of date. I was thrilled when, in November, I heard from Seattle Monthly that they'd like some pictures for a profile in the February edition. Sara Dickerman had some really nice things to say;
The Cantina is a charming place, with friendly service, a shelf full of toys for little customers and long, tall margaritas that are just sweet enough. The food’s not the typical misinterpretation of Tex-Mex, all glopped with cheese and hopped up on jalapeños. It’s actually got a range of distinct flavors—a quesadilla, yes, but studded with Yucatan-style prawns ($8.50), all-meat chili ($4.50) and enchiladas ($13.50) filled with distinctive options like Texas pot roast (beer-braised, Washington grass-fed beef) or brown-sugar-braised pork.
But unfortunately the kind words account for only about a third of the text. Oddly, she mentions a menu item the she wasn't thrilled with, but we weren't either and removed it from the menu by November! She also commented on the chill in the room, which is absolutely a challenge we've had to deal with. The exhaust hood that was installed by the previous restaurant in this space is WAY too powerful for the room and it sucks the warm air out. The guys in the kitchen who can control it are close to the heat and have no idea how cold the dining room gets. We can turn the fan off for a while, but the room heats up a lot, and fast, and the kitchen becomes sweaty and sweltering. We turn it on and the room quickly becomes quite chilly. The balance I've found is to turn up the room heat to 80 and flash the hood fan on and off throughout service. When the room is full of bodies this works fine, when we're slow it is less consistently comfortable.
Also recently these things have been said;
I loved Austin Cantina from the moment I saw it. It's small, with just one wall of tables lined up on a continuous bench. The tables have cowboy hat table cloths, and there's an old wagon wheel leaning against the wall. It has a great down home feel (without being hokey), smells delicious, with an adorable, smiling waitress wearing a chili pepper clad apron.
When it's cold and rainy outside, I look for a place that's warm and comforting inside. I found it at Austin Cantina - Great staff, charming decor, awesome quirky music, and glorious food!
Anyway, business has been a bit slow with the rain and cold weather. In November we were consistently seeing hour+ waits for a table on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, lately it has been no more than 15 to 20 minutes and the room has several empty tables for most of the night on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday evenings. If I don't have enough customers eating the food I can't give our staff the hours they need to pay rent and electric bills. As one of our servers remarked recently (I won't tell which one) "C'mon out for dinner, Mama needs a new pair of shoes!"