Cantina Taqueria + Bar, formerly known as BTB Cantina, is beginning the year with a brand new look. The nine-year-old bar, known for its late-night dancing and Mexican cuisine, revamped its taco menu and redesigned its interior space over Winter Break.

Adam Lowenstein and Justin Herrick, co-owners of Cantina and five other bars and restaurants, said the makeover came from a need to give the dancing space, bar and restaurant area each their own identity.

“We felt like we really needed a refresh,” Lowenstein said. “The idea was to basically separate BTB from Cantina.”

To accomplish this, they brought all the booths into one space and unified the paint color to make it look the same.

“Cantina has multiple identities,” Lowenstein said. “The whole problem that we have here is to try and really nail each one of those identities. It’s a bar at night and it’s a club; it has that whole South U kind of drinking aspect to it. But we have a restaurant too that operates through lunch and dinner. So we wanted to make it function — lunch, happy hour, dinner, late-night — and really have a smooth transition throughout the day.”

Lowenstein said the biggest part of the menu changes was making seven different kinds of tacos. Over the summer, Cantina partnered with chef Magdiale Wolmark, a two-time James Beard nominee.

“We met up through some mutual friends,” Lowenstein said. “We decided to partner up on the menu. We needed to go above and beyond. Our whole idea was bringing in a chef and focusing on this menu to really nail these flavors and bring the quality of the food up, in order to create a destination.”

Their collaboration sought to shape Cantina’s new identity in focusing on a handcrafted taco menu with unique flavors and local sourcing. Herrick lauded Wolmark’s background in promoting and serving local food, and said they were able to work quickly.

“(Wolmark) brings the whole farm to table ethos to the menu,” Lowenstein said. “So our sourcing is local as much as it can be. Really where we put a lot of our time and energy was crafting this taco menu. At Cantina, we’re focusing on tacos, that’s our goal here. So we really fleshed out the taco menu.”

The drink menu now features craft and Mexican beers, as well as a margarita soda on tap. One feature the owners are won’t be changing, though, is the already successful Taco Tuesday.

“That’s one of our best days here,” Lowenstein said. “So we decided to really focus in on that success and really identify ourselves as an awesome taco joint.”

Lowenstein said students have reacted positively to the changes, especially the new flavors of tacos.

“We feel like it’s a comfortable space to hang out with a group,” Lowenstein said. “People don’t give students enough credit for their palette and their exposure to cool trends and cool foods that are out there. I think people have been really positive about the changes.”

Lowenstein said though Cantina is still a bar and a club, he hopes students will begin to recognize Cantina as a restaurant too.

“We have people who don’t even recognize Cantina as more than just a bar,” Lowenstein said. “So hopefully as people get to understand the breadth of what we do and try the food, things will begin to change.”

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