SAN FRANCISCO — On Thursday afternoon, the owners of Cantina Los Mayas in the Richmond District were getting ready for their grand opening Thursday night.
As far as they know, they say they’re the first Mexican wine bar in the nation. They’ll have a list of exclusively Mexican wines available — 45 to be exact. And many come from el Valle de Guadalupe in México.
“A lot of these wineries do a lot of blending — sometimes unusual blending — that to some avid wine drinkers may seem a little unusual. But the flavor is what is the best result in the end,” said co-owner Morgan Anderson. “So if you’re talking about a single grape, there’s still variety in it, but it’s a different climate. If you’re drinking nebbiolo from Mexico, it’s a different climate than Italy. If you’re drinking a big cab, it’s a different climate from Napa even, so it’ll be a little bit different taste. But they’re not afraid to experiment.”
And in addition to the wine menu, those who dine in can expect authentic food with spices and condiments from Yucatán, México.
Behind the food, you’ll find Cantina Los Mayas co-owner Juve Carrillo-Interian.
“My dad cooks a lot, my mom, my aunt, so I basically learned all of this from them,” Carrillo-Interian said. He grew up in the Yucatán, and the influence behind the menu comes from his home.
On the menu, you’ll see a variety of dishes including panuchos, which are Mayan crispy tacos filled with refried beans with a choice of meat. There are tacos, ceviche, and dishes that many in California may not necessarily associate with Mexican food.
But Carrillo-Interian said that’s the goal. He wants people to see that Mexican food isn’t just tacos and burritos. There’s variety that takes time to make. Most of the condiments they use come directly from Yucatán, he said.
Carrillo-Interian added that it will all be gluten-free because traditionally, his family cooked with corn instead of flour.
The food will be a little different from Taquería Los Mayas, the restaurant a few blocks away that they also own. The fare at Cantina Los Mayas will be a little more elegant.
“Each dish, we’re planning to do different salsa, but playing with the spices,” Carrillo-Interian said.
Each aspect from the wine, to the food, to the design is well thought out.
“We were thinking about the Guadalupe Valley, and the Guadalupe Valley is a very arid, dry climate. Borrowing from that, we came up with this desert elegant design,” said co-owner Vincent Lam.
On opening night, many diners tried Mexican wine for the very first time.
“This is the Nebbiolo I believe. It’s really full bodied, really light, really smooth, it’s going to pair really well with the duck that I got for dinner,” said Katie Harper of San Francisco.
And as people enter and experience Cantina Los Mayas, the owners say the goal is that they showcase Mexican wine and the diversity that comes with it.
Cantina Los Mayas is located at 431 Balboa Street in San Francisco and will be open from Thursday to Sunday. Reservations can be made on the wine bar’s website.
Betty Yu contributed to this story.