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Before Cantina Eastwood even opened its doors, the restaurant competed against over a dozen Lansing restaurants for Margarita Fest 2019 and won first place.
The classic margarita featured fresh lime and lemon juice, a hint of orange oil and Jose Cuervo Silver tequila. The same simplistic, from-scratch-recipe mentality is applied to its new full menu, general manager James Erevia said.
“This has all the right things for me,” Erevia said. “I’m of Mexican descent and I needed to be involved in something where I had my hands on the food. When I see sausage made, I already know what it is going to taste like.”
On the menu will be traditional Mexican fare like tacos, burritos, enchiladas and more.
As a scratch kitchen, Erevia and executive chef Mike Bannister developed the original recipes over a series of months.
The mentality even trickles down to the sauces, which are made by slow roasting and boiling an assortment of peppers. More care and time is put into its barbacoa, cooking overnight for upwards of 13 hours.
Owner Scott Berman said this project was four years in the making. He brings over 40 years of restaurant experience to the table, once managing eight chain restaurants in Grand Rapids. Though Cantina Eastwood may have the appearance of a high-end chain, it is all locally owned and operated, Berman said.
“Eastwood is becoming such a hot place for trendy restaurants, and Lansing is starting to embrace local culinary expertise as opposed to chains,” Berman said. “We’ve made a real commitment here to Mexican cuisine and a scratch kitchen.”
The 3,000-square-foot restaurant can seat 135 guests and will further feature an approximate 600-square-foot patio.
“A restaurant is an integral part of the community. You can change people’s lives by giving them a good place to eat,” he said.
Inside, Berman worked with a local interior designer to emulate a fresh and modern theme with pictures of simple ingredients and vintage light bulb fixtures.
On the sweeter side of things, Cantina Eastwood offers authentic Mexican desserts like tres leche cake and churros. At the bar, patrons can choose from up to 30 bottles of tequila.
Seasoned cauliflower can substitute for meat as a vegetarian option.
Cantina Eastwood brings 70 jobs to the area and is still hiring.
“We hope our people embrace the idea of working for an independent restaurant and operation,” Berman said.
“I make a promise to them that if they work for me, they are going to see me out on the floor supporting them,” Erevia added.
Berman added that in his experience, it makes a difference when the recipes, ownership, ingredients and staff reflect the immediate community.
“I want people to go here because there is no other Mexican restaurant like us in town,” Berman said. “It will be an experience worth going out of your way for because you can taste it.”
Grand opening Aug. 12
Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
2328 Showtime Dr., Lansing, MI
(517) 708-8803, cantinaeastwood.com