La Cantina ‘modern-meets-authentic’ Mexican restaurant opens in former Cheapside cafe space in downtown Cincinnati

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Photo: Provided by PB&J: A Creative Storytelling Agency

(Left to right) Anthony Sitek and Johnny Curiel of the upcoming La Cantina restaurant.

The former Cheapside Cafe space in the city center is getting a makeover thanks to the local Crown Restaurant Group (CRG).

CRG – which owns Crown Republic Gastropub, Losanti and Rosie’s Cocktails & Pies – has brought chef Johnny Curiel on board for the upcoming La Catina.

[PHOTOS: Inside Rosie’s Cocktails & Pies, Cincinnati’s New East Coast-Style Pizza Joint]

Curiel, recently executive chef of Nada, brings his years of experience and modern-meets-authentic Mexican style to the new restaurant, slated to open this winter.

Click to enlarge The Cantina will be located in the former Cheapside Cafe space - PHOTO: PAIGE DEGLOW

Photo: Paige Deglow

La Cantina will be located in the former Cheapside Cafe space

La Cantina began as a pop-up at the Crown Republic Gastropub in July, with Curiel and CRG chef/owner Anthony Sitek at the helm. The menu included dishes such as Elote, Baja Fish Tacos and Chicken Mole. And the full restaurant will deliver “the same electric flavor and cultural inspiration…with a fully realized menu and a robust cocktail program,” a statement read.

“When we saw the amount of support and excitement around La Cantina pop-ups this summer, we knew there was something special here,” Sitek said in the statement. “We look forward to being able to further showcase Johnny’s modern take on Mexican cuisine.”

Curiel has worked as both a chef and a consultant, with prominent roles in kitchens such as Guard + Grace, Los Chingones and Lola Coastal Mexican (all in Colorado). When Curiel was 18, he traveled around Mexico for several years, “learning traditional techniques from chefs and honing his skills,” the statement read. At the age of 21, he was mentored by Colorado-based Mexican chef Richard Sandoval.

Curiel came to Cincinnati in 2020 to work at Nada and helped revamp the menu there.

The Cantina will be located at 326 E. Eighth St., Downtown. To learn more, visit

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