EL GRANJERO CANTINA
COOL COLORFUL CANTINA COMES TO FARMERS MARKET
There’s a new look at an old favorite these days as El Granjero Cantina is the newest addition at The Original Farmers Market, offering contemporary and comforting Mexican classics alongside margaritas, tequilas and mezcals, and cerveza.
Yes, it’s a taco fest and then some at, El Granjero Cantina. Dine inside the colorful cantina and bar or enjoy the safe al fresco experience on the spacious patio as you indulge on tried and true classic dishes and cocktails.
Co-owned by John Moshay of Fritzi Coop, which is housed inside the Farmers Market, other partners include Neal Frazer of Redbird, and Amy Knoll Fraser, who designed the bright and colorful interior. Notable team members include Chef Jenni Sklar (Lucques, Sqirl, Son of a Gun), and Cocktail Consultant Tobin Shea (Bar Director, Redbird) who helped guide the El Granjero Cantina’s bar program.
Executive Chef Jenni Sklar’s ingredient driven menu embraces regional Mexican flavors using seasonal and fresh ingredients showcasing a selection of Antojitos (Snacks), including Guacamole, Fiesta Nachos, Papas Fritas, and Pork Belly, and Ensaladas (Salads).
Chef Sklar’s Tacos are front and center menu items. Taco options include Avocado, Beef, Carnitas, Chicken or Crispy Fish. The Dorados (Golden Tacos) are lightly fried to perfection and options include Chili Braised Beef & Cheese, Tomatillo Chicken & Cheese, and Soyrizo & Vegan Cheese.
“We make everything in-house from our pickles to our salsas, carnitas, and our tortillas,” says Sklar. “Our Tortillas are soft, pliable, full of moisture and fantastic flavor. The density reminds me of a tamale and every tortilla is handmade to order every time.”
During our recent visit for dinner, we started with the EGC Old Fashioned made with reposado tequila, mezcal, Meletti Amaro, and orange. It’s a very nice updated version to an Old Fashioned.
A classic that doesn’t need any updating is the Cadillac Margarita, which is a terrific way to get any experience off the ground. Perfect starter items (Antojitos) include the Fiesta Nachos prepped with guajillo cheese sauce, Fresno chiles, black olives, onions, salsa verde and pico de gallo—ask for baby nachos so as not to overload from the get-go—as well as the Papas Fritas made with fried potatoes, aji verde, salsa macha, cilantro.
While I’m a stickler for a classic Caesar salad, I really love the presentation here. A mix of Romaine lettuce, cured egg yolk, sunflower seeds and breadcrumbs, consider this finger food and eat it like a taco.
Tacos can be served on soft corn tortillas, fried or as a bowl. While the Chili Braised Beef & Cheese golden taco is an absolute winner, the Soyrizo & Vegan Cheese golden taco was another taco stand-out as the flavors were just off the charts.
“I am constantly impressed with Jenni's cooking as she knows the perfect way to balance every dish with acid, salt and texture,” explains General Manager Grace Etchegoyen . “She is excited by Mexican food, and it definitely shows. It was important to her to make everything from scratch, and I love the vegan items she created for our menu. She put extra time and attention into preparing them to make sure they were thought through, exciting and delicious.”
As for the soft, house-made corn tortillas tacos, the Crispy Avocado is original as well as outstanding. Made with chipotle aioli, marinated kale, corn and black bean salsa, and pickled red onions, this one is so very satisfying. Likewise, the Crispy Fish taco with spicy cabbage slaw, avocado sauce, and Tajin is fab, along with the Carnitas made with salsa crudo, crema, pickled red onion, and cilantro. Food coma never tasted so good.
If you want more than just margaritas, which isn’t a bad way to go, opt for the Paloma or go tiki with the Mai Tai with a tequila twist of course.
Because you will have to venture to The Original Farmers Market next door to The Grove, be prepared that prices are touristy. So, if you don’t want to spend $20 for two ala carte tasty tacos, then make sure to hit up Happy Hour “All Day” every Monday and Tuesday, and every Wednesday through Friday from 3pm to 6pm and feast on $9 Baby Nachos, Tomatillo Chicken & Cheese Dorado tacos, and Braised Beef Tacos (both tacos come two per order). A happy hour Modelo draft beer is only $5.
I can’t think of a better place to sit and chill, sip and nosh outdoors and people watch than at El Granjero Cantina. Take advantage of happy hour and indulge on some margaritas and a tequila Old Fashioned or two. A good time is guaranteed.
El Granjero Cantina is located at The Original Farmers Market. Open daily from 11:30am to close weekdays and from 10am on weekends. Call 323-879-9324.
Story & Photography By: Jose Martinez
Photos of chefs and two below by: Michael Brown