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El Barrio Mexican Lounge Opens in Guerneville

As the culinary scene continues to develop in Guerneville, chefs are getting more inventive with their food. Now, we can add contemporary Latin American to the list, thanks to the opening of El Barrio, a Mexican modern cocktail lounge from local chef, restaurateur and hotelier Crista Luedtke.

The lounge takes over the former Whitetail Winebar on Main Street, and is meant to be a locals’ hangout. “Barrio means ‘the neighborhood’ in Spanish, and is also a play on words ‘bar’ and ‘rio’ - Spanish for ‘river’… thus ‘river bar,’” said Luedtke.

But it likely will attract out-of-town guests, too. Luedtke is well known in the area, as she also owns the very popular boon eat+drink and big bottom market on Main Street, and boon hotel+spa at the entrance to Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve.

While the menu is really short, it goes for flavor impact. Bar-friendly bites include totopos (chips) with salsas and guacamole, a specialty of Mexican deviled eggs topped in cilantro lime pesto and chile dust, and queso skillets made with local goat or Oaxacan cheeses studded with cactus, peppers or chorizo.

Drinks are top-shelf, too, emphasizing tequilas and mezcals, plus with beers, micheladas, bourbons, and cocktails from consulting mixologist Christina Cabrera (a Michael Mina alumni). Some of the signatures include the El Sancho of Fidencio mescal, Aperitivo Cappelletti and Cocchi Vermouth di Torino; the El Viejo of Calle 23 Reposado Tequila, Pierde Alma's Mezcal Agave and chocolate/orange bitters; and the La Mula of Zapopan tequila, lime and house made ginger beer.

No one will recognize the new space, by the way, as Luedtke completely transformed things, importing knick knacks and custom made furniture from Mexico, and hiring graffiti and street-art artist Apex of San Francisco to decorate her walls.

Details: El Barrio,16230 Main Street, Guerneville

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