Bar: Park Street Cantina
If you've ever vacationed in Mexico, you've probably spent time in a gringo bar.
These places feel slightly exotic, but never too foreign. You can get good tequila and a fajita platter, but the staff speaks English and TVs aren't only showing rodeos.
You're mostly there to enjoy the relaxed ways of beachfront life and some dusty, authentic decor. American tastes and preferences are never overlooked.
That's exactly the vibe of Park Street Cantina, the latest installment from the guys behind Sugar Bar, The Social and Park Street Patio. Partners Chris Corso, Mike Gallicchio and Brian Swanson traveled to gringo bars across Central and South America - and brought back a fun, summery addition to the city's hottest nightlife strip.
If you like a sun-drenched veranda, a spring-break atmosphere and burritos, you're in luck.
"The cool thing about the hotels and stuff down there is that they're really attentive to the gringos," Corso said. "I'm trying to mimic the ocean breeze, but I haven't quite gotten it down yet."
Warm sea winds aside, Cantina is a good rendition of what you'll find south of the border. Formerly the location of Spice Bar, the building has been completely revamped from upscale cocktail lounge into potential hangout for The Wild Bunch.
Outside you'll find a large beach bar, tables beneath a wooden pergola and some comfy swings for taking in the rays. Last Thursday, this section was hopping by 6 p.m., with groups joyously basking in the sun and enjoying buckets of Corona.
The inside feels cool and dark - the place you'd go after a long day on the range. Tables encircle a large bar in the front, and a giant dance floor unfolds in the back. Sombreros, earthy color scheme and vaquero leather add a distinct Mexican vibe.
Keeping to the Mexican-American fusion of the gringo bar, the menu offers pub favorites, Latin fare and a few resurrected Spice Bar favorites. That means a really good guacamole ($7) sits next to pizzas ($10), the Avocado Steak Salad ($11) and Baked Mac n' Cheese ($7).
Washing down any of these selections won't be a problem with plenty of bottled beer, specialty vodka drinks served by the pitcher and some of the biggest fishbowl margaritas I've ever seen. These 60-ounce behemoths ($20) come in numerous flavors and are available blended or on the rocks.
They're delicious - just don't fall in.
Park Street Cantina
491 N. Park St., Arena District
Bar hours: 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Kitchen hours: 4 p.m.-12 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Happy hour: 4-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday: half-off pitchers of margaritas and draft beer
In short: A sweet, south-of-the-border saloon