Cantera in downtown Durango is closing for good, but the restaurant’s owner says those looking for authentic Mexican cuisine should fear not: He’s opening a new eatery in the same location geared toward more affordable, faster food.
“We thought about closing our doors,” said Beto Navarro, who also owns Macho’s. “But we didn’t want to let go of our amazing staff, and we figured we’d give it one more try with a different concept.”
Cantera, located at 1150 Main Ave., the former site of the Lost Dog Tavern, opened in 2018 with a higher-end menu that sought to modernize many traditional Mexican dishes.
Navarro said the longtime survival of the restaurant started to be in question after a state public health order shut down all eateries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
But the closure also allowed Navarro to rethink what kind of restaurant he wanted to run, he said.
“I’ve been at Macho’s a lot and talking to younger crowds who said they were intimidated to come in (Cantera) with the way it looked with the blown glass and everything,” he said. “So we’re going to lighten the mood up.”
Navarro partnered with Roberto Delgado, who was a mixologist at Cantera, to come up with the concept for what will be called Taco Libre Taqueria and Cocktails.
The new restaurant intends to offer Mexican street food with a range of traditional taco meat options. Food and drinks will be cheaper than Cantera, Navarro said, and the location will feature a lounge area, games and live music.
New restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak also weighed heavily in planning the restaurant. As a result, people will order at the counter, take their number and get their food in about 10 minutes.
“With social distancing, we can’t really have the crowds we used to have in here,” Navarro said. “So this is going to be easier.”
Crews have been remodeling the location for the past few weeks. Navarro said Taco Libre Taqueria and Cocktails should be open by mid-June.