La Cantina a new option for Mexican food in Schuylkill County

0

After spending most of their adult lives in the restaurant industry and raising kids, Justine Hernandez and her husband, Rudy, found themselves at a crossroads — literally. Step into The Cantina, their new Mexican and American restaurant located in the former Crossroads Inn, Adamsdale Road in Schuylkill Haven.

A small bar next to the dining area provides patrons with a friendly space to wait tables, meet friends, or enjoy one of the Cantina’s specialty margaritas. (Janis McGowan)

Veracruz native Rudy and Blue Mountain graduate Justine met 16 years ago while working in a restaurant, and their love affair for cooking and each other began.

A friend told them a few years ago that the Second Mountain Gun Club was looking for someone to take over their kitchen, and the couple took the plunge.

“I didn’t even know what Second Mountain was,” Justine said, “but it was a great starting point for us.”

After just two weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The club has been closed and they have moved to doing only takeout. The menu consisted of standard bar food and Mexican dishes.

About a year later, Main Street Moonshine opened in Schuylkill Haven and needed kitchen staff. Justine and Rodolfo jumped at the chance, working there for a year, earning a following, and perfecting their culinary partnership — all while raising four daughters ages 5 to 20, and Justine working as a registered nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital. /Geisinger nearby.

When the Crossroads Inn closed due to the death of its owner, Tom Rayburn, on Christmas Day, the Hernandezes knew it was time to venture out on their own. They bought the restaurant in December and, after a few months of renovations, they opened The Cantina on February 11.

By adding fresh paint and a few personal touches to the inn, which was built in 1904 as the Hotel Continental, the Hernandezes made the restaurant an inviting place to dine.

“The best compliment I’ve heard came from a 4-year-old girl,” Justine said. “She asked me, ‘Why did you turn your house into a restaurant?’ It is the warm atmosphere that we are looking for.

Capitalizing on Rudy’s expertise and experience in authentic Mexican cuisine and adding a touch of Americana to the menu, The Cantina offers a varied menu including authentic Mexican-style tacos, burritos and enchiladas as well as langoustines shrimp, burgers, fresh seafood and rib eye steaks. Guacamole, pico de gallo and homemade tortilla chips are prepared daily. For children, the menu offers chicken fillets, grilled cheese and pasta.

“It’s so nice to have something other than pizza, Chinese and Italian around,” is a comment Justine hears daily.

Located in the former Crossroads Inn at the intersection of Adamsdale Road and South Greenview Road, The Cantina is Schuylkill County's newest Mexican restaurant.  (Janis McGowan)
Located in the former Crossroads Inn at the intersection of Adamsdale Road and South Greenview Road, The Cantina is Schuylkill County’s newest Mexican restaurant. (Janis McGowan)

As soon as it opened, the Cantina filled up. Just before Cinco de Mayo, the restaurant’s liquor license was approved, giving patrons the opportunity to sample a variety of specialty margaritas and Mexican beers.

All in the family

Running a restaurant is tough, especially in these times. Food shortages are common, help is hard to come by, and government restrictions and requirements change frequently. But The Cantina covers all the bases. Rudy travels daily to find fresh produce and supplies. Most restaurant employees are family members. Justine takes care of the bar and Rudy is the chef.

“Without my parents Randy and Cindy Sattizahn and my aunt Penny and her daughter Jeralyn, we couldn’t do what we do,” Justine said.

La Cantina was recently voted the best recently opened restaurant in Schuylkill County by readers of a local newspaper.

Restaurant details

Reservations are strongly suggested as the Cantina can only accommodate 52 people. The phone number is 570-593-0100.

The Cantina hours of operation are Tuesday-Thursday 4-8pm. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. They are closed on Sunday and Monday.

The cozy atmosphere of The Cantina welcomes diners looking for authentic Mexican cuisine or an American-style choice.  (Janis McGowan)
The cozy atmosphere of The Cantina welcomes diners looking for authentic Mexican cuisine or an American-style choice. (Janis McGowan)
Share.

Comments are closed.