SOUTH TAMPA — A true Mexican experience will artfully and authentically draw diners to Catrinas Cocina Y Galeria for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, say co-owners Karol Ortiz and Tisbeth Mejia.
By May 5 — Cinco de Mayo — Ortiz and Mejia expect to open an eclectic eatery that will also serve as a gallery, eventually exhibiting works by local artists on the restaurant's walls. The location, on S MacDill Avenue, a few blocks north of Bay to Bay Boulevard, has previously been a Bistro Bleu, a Marrakesh and Koba's Japanese restaurant.
Mejia, whose family owns four restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico, is the chef, following her abuela's, or grandmother's, Aztec recipes. Specialities include sangria, ceviche and molcajete, a meaty stew made with chili and cocoa powder "and other surprise ingredients,'' says Ortiz. Entree prices range between $10 and $30.
"This is not Tex-Mex,'' Ortiz adds, explaining that the name of the 125-seat restaurant is taken from the smiling cartoon skull called La Catrina, an image associated with the Mexican celebration, the Day of the Dead.
"It's known as the elegant skull, from a 1910 cartoon making fun of death," says Ortiz. "We are honoring the cultural history. Even in the bathrooms you will find historical photographs."
The first art on display will be Mejia's. "Whatever she dreams, she paints," says Ortiz, a native of Puerto Rico who handles the marketing. Among her promotions: "hangover remedies" and theme nights — jazz, poetry, art — and on Fridays, mariachi music.
Catrinas Cocina Y Galeria, 2402 S MacDill Ave., will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Call (813) 251-4604 or visit catrinascocinaygaleria.com.
Day spa, brow divas move to bigger space
If moving to a new building three times the size of her previous spa is a dream, then please don't wake up Tara Keenan.
After six years on S MacDill Avenue, Keenan and the brow divas at Enchanteria Day Spa & Dreamery relocated March 21, directly across the street from Catrinas Cocina Y Galeria.
"It's like stepping into a different world,'' says Keenan, describing the enchanted garden ambiance inspired by gypsies and flowers. "It's a sanctuary designed to make you slow down and breathe deeply." A private room is available for birthdays, baby showers and bridal parties.
Keenan said the spa is best known for brow artistry — stenciling, tweezing and trimming — using her own technique and products called Gypsy Brows. "It's like a botox-free brow lift,'' she said.
Other spa services offered include facials, massages, manicures, Brazilian waxing and anti-aging treatments.
A grand reopening takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday featuring belly dancers, prize drawings and appetizers from nearby restaurants such as Pane Rustica, Datz, Cru Cellar, Catrinas Cocina Y Galeria and the Brunchery.
Enchanteria Day Spa & Dreamery, 3100 W San Carlos St., is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For appointments, visit enchanteriadayspa.com or call (813) 254-6832.
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