LivingTravelReview: Cafe Corazon in Bay View

Review: Cafe Corazon in Bay View

The wait for lovers of local food has been long and anxious. Nearly a year after Café Corazon, a popular cool local Mexican restaurant in Riverwest, announced that they would be opening a second outpost on bustling Kinnickinnic Avenue in Bay View, opening day finally arrived in mid-February.

Corazón means ‘heart’, or a term of endearment, in Spanish and that’s exactly what this cozy little place feels like. While Riverwest’s location is on a small hill and has a garden setting, the Bay View restaurant flaunts an urban vibe. Car traffic buzzes along KK Avenue and the sidewalk in front is lined with joggers, dog walkers and locals running errands on foot. It’s a refreshing alternative to the half-dozen Mexican restaurants in the area where the food is decent and cheap, but the atmosphere and quality of ingredients are lacking.

The restaurant is divided into two sections. You walk into the side of the bar, and beyond that is the dining room where cherry red metal chairs are paired with small wooden tables and blue cushioned tables. Wide vertical planks of wood make up half of each wall. Decorating the walls are religious artifacts with a Latin slant, such as glass Mexican prayer candles on small wooden shelves, portraits of Jesus, crosses and religious medallions and tapestries. Even if you are not religious or have a personal connection to the items, they translate as a sense of place and also provide color and art.

Every day at Café Corazón there is a special and on the day of my visit, Thursday, this translated into a vegan meal. (Other specials include $ 2 tacos and $ 5 margaritas on Tuesdays.) Whether it’s tofu herbs, soy chorizo, or sauteed vegetables, a meal at Café Corazón doesn’t have to revolve around dishes created from meat or fish (you can choose from seven options here: asada , which is grilled beef; carnitas , tender and braised pork; chicken; chorizo; ground beef; shredded , shredded meat, or shrimp).

The last page of the menu is dedicated to five vegan dishes. Inspired, I came up with the Vegan Taco Plate, a true sample of three corn tacos that allows you to try meatless options, topped with a cumin lime vinaigrette.

My partner opted for the carnitas enchiladas, which are doubled in pork. For both dishes, the presentation was very colorful and goes many steps beyond what you would expect in a taqueria . And there are some surprising inclusions, like mussels in spicy white wine with a selection of shrimp, chorizo ​​or soy chorizo, and jalapeños as well; and three hearty meatless salads with the option to add shrimp to one of them, the signature Corazón Salad, a mix of mixed greens, rice, beans, tomato, cream and avocado, plus black or pinto beans and topped with chipotle ranch dressing seasoned.

There’s also a nod throughout the menu to local producers, like Simple Soyman’s tofu and, in my horchata , which is a Latin rice, milk, cinnamon and vanilla drink, Sassy Cow Creamery in Columbus. In fact, owners Wendy and Jorge Mireles select many of the menu items from their family’s farm.

In a rare move, Café Corazon is open for Saturday and Sunday brunch, while most restaurants opt for Sunday brunch only. There are five different breakfast tacos, two breakfast burritos, and a selection of empanadas that double up on ingredients like crimini mushrooms from Wisconsin and Wilson Farm pulled pork from Elkhorn. Even the jalapeño, bacon, cheddar, and cilantro burger has local roots; It is from the owners’ family farm in Waupun called Richway Acres. It is also served with a serving of fruit, rice, and beans, or papas a lo poor (thinly sliced potatoes cooked with onions and green peppers).

Traditional breakfast orders like pancakes and French toast are offered, but with a twist, like rumchata-soaked French toast or Jolly Cakes, which are drunken amaretto pancakes.

Drinks at Café Corazón span the gamut, from innovative cocktails (like “Adam & Steve,” with Korbel, passion fruit juice and Bombay sapphire) to staple drinks (like home-made sangria to my partner’s Mezcal Margarita at the rocks, handcrafted from Del Maguey Vida mezcal, lime juice, triple sec and simple syrup, resulting in a pleasant smoky flavor). Non-alcoholic beverages with an ode to Mexico include horchata and bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola.

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