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Cantina offers a tasty twist on Mexican food

Hugo Brito
Cantina Malolam is a restaurant and bar, known for their different way of serving Mexican food.

Tucked in the center of a cultural hub, Cantina Malolam is a new, hip Mexican restaurant located on 5001 N. Mesa. My mom and I ate there on a Saturday night, during one of their busier times, but the service was still good and I was not disappointed.

The restaurant and bar combination seemed intimidating at first for someone who doesn’t normally go to bars or experience these kinds of places. The atmosphere was relaxed and the waiters were warm and inviting. They invited us in as soon as we walked in through the door and allowed us to sit wherever we wanted. Although it was a bit chilly outside, we decided to eat on their patio at one of their picnic tables.

My mom was worried they would forget we were there because we were a tad hidden from the rest of the patrons, but our waiter was always available to refill my iced tea.

I ordered chicken tacos with a side of rice, and was surprised with how much rice I got.

I had the choice of black beans, calabacitas (zucchini), Mexican fried rice, French fries or a side salad for a side.

The rice was delightfully mixed Teh The rice was delightfully mixed with chorizo and pico de gallo, and I had enough of it for leftovers for two days after, which was a good thing because it was uniquely delicious.

The chicken tacos contained chopped strips of chicken on a bed of warmed corn tortillas, marinated in an array of spices and topped with onions, green onions and cilantro. They tasted like a mix of homemade, Mexican-style tacos and street-food tacos you would buy at a food truck. The tacos were of decent size and had me wanting more, even though they left me full and satisfied.

The salsa accompanying the meal, which my waiter warned me of possibly being incredibly spicy, was a blend of spices and chili and definitely had me guzzling water afterwards.

My mom ordered fish tacos and was really pleased with her order. Like the chicken, the fish was marinated in spices that accented the flavor well.

Some of the other items on the menu included soups and salads, burgers, street dogs, tortas and coconut shrimp tacos. I really want to try the French fries topped with citrus vinaigrette the next time I go.

The patio was pleasantly lit with lights all around and the music was just as loud and invigorating as it was inside. They played classic artists, like Shakira and Aventura along with other classic Spanish songs (which all happen to end with “dun dun!”).

Although I did not sit inside, the inside of the restaurant seemed like a very inviting place to eat. The interior combines a traditional restaurant with a simple and futuristic feel. Large glass tiles with custom Mexican images printed on them gives an ode to their background, while their all-black furniture and brown wooden floors give it its futuristic look, which helps it blend in and stand out in the center of what has become one of El Paso’s most bustling scenes.

Toward the back, they have a bar with TVs lined up with different sports programs playing all at once. With a mix of barstools, high tables and booths, Cantina Malolam creates a welcoming and relaxed environment to go eat, drink, watch sports and listen to trendy, Mexican music.

Overall my experience was very pleasant. The food was delicious, the service was great and the environment was  enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this to anyone wanting to try a tasty twist on traditional Mexican food.

Julia Hettiger can be reached at [email protected].

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Cantina offers a tasty twist on Mexican food