Mexican Cuisine with a Modern Twist

Skirt steak and pork belly tacos are among El Colibri’s fresh offerings

By Racheal Arroyo

The Cape definitely has its fair share of Mexican restaurants dotting the landscape. (Who can resist a heaping pile of tortilla chips and a side of guacamole?) But, the newly opened El Colibri Restaurante and Tequila Bar aims to bring something different to the fiesta.

“We are using more modern influences,” says owner Robert Catania, who is no stranger to the restaurant business. Since graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in 1985, Catania has been an executive chef and general manager at the family-owned Dan’l Webster Inn; opened the wickedly popular Wicked Fire Pizza (located only steps away from El Colibri) and Oak & Ember, an upscale steakhouse and whiskey bar, which was supplanted this February by his newest culinary venture, El Colibri Restaurante and Tequila Bar.

The decision to replace Oak & Ember with El Colibri was in response to the skyrocketing prices of beef, a prominent ingredient in many of the steakhouse’s dishes. El Colibri’s menu was created to be both affordable and delicious. And like Oak & Ember and Wicked Fire Pizza, the restaurant uses only the best ingredients: organic greens and antibiotic-free meats as well as non-GMO tortillas. Catania explains, “Even if we are making a $15 taco, we are using all natural meats, fresh produce and herbs.”

Modern Mexican cuisine blends traditional Mexican ingredients (including ingredients brought from other cultures to the region, such as Spain and other Mediterranean countries) and European cooking techniques, says, Catania. Two of his favorite dishes that are prime examples of modern Mexican cuisine are the skirt steak and the pork belly tacos. Instead of being braised, the steak tacos are grilled to a tender medium-rare temperature, and served with rice and a small salad; and the pork belly for the pork belly tacos is smoked for hours on premises, and served with a cool jalapeno slaw and mango guava barbecue sauce on a soft corn tortilla.

The menu also showcases some traditional Spanish appetizers such as Medjool dates stuffed with almonds and cream cheese and wrapped in Serrano ham and a Spanish charcuterie board with a variety of tasty tidbits to nosh on: cured meats, cheeses, olives, stuffed peppers and more to tantalize your tastebuds.

What else sets El Colibri apart? For side dishes, instead of the usual rice and bean combo, they serve rice and steamed vegetables or a small salad. They also prepare three house-made hot sauces that are rotated weekly, and offer a fun selection of expertly crafted cocktails, including a drink called the Mexican Manhattan, made with tequila instead of whisky.  “We have one of the most decorative bars on Cape Cod,” says Catania. It is made of rare, imported onyx, seats a crowd of 30 and offers a front-row view of the live music performed on Thursday and Friday nights.

Stated simply and to the point, El Colibri is just “simple food, done well in a great atmosphere,” says Catania.

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