For a while, folks who dared duck past the truly gnarly 3-D mural at Berkeley’s La Peña Cultural Center would find a hidden gem of a restaurant – Los Cilantros, serving simple but satisfying Mexican fare like enchiladas verdes and grilled rockfish tacos.
Then the pandemic came, and the restaurant shut its doors for the first time since 2014. Dilsa Lugo, chef and owner, packed up shop and moved to a kiosk at the shared commercial kitchen La Cocina Municipal Marketplace in San Francisco. Of course, things weren’t the same – but now they are, and also aren’t, as Los Cilantros reopened last week after three years of closure with a revamped interior and menu highlighting the chef’s hometown of Cuernavaca.
Fish tacos are still on offer at the joint, located at 3105 Shattuck Ave., but there are fresh items like shrimp aguachile, chile rellenos with handmade tortillas and esquites (sauteed sweet corn) with cotija cheese, epazote and lime aioli. (See full menu below.) Chef Lugo also recently came across a new molino, a machine for grinding grains, and plans to use it to feature different varieties of heirloom corn in sweet and savory dishes.
“While our doors may have been closed, our kitchen and hearts have been hustling. Our team has stayed together, finding new ways to bring our mouthwatering dishes straight to your homes and events,” the restaurant posted on Instagram. The grand reopening is “not just a return; it’s a celebration of resilience, of community, and of the joy that good food can bring into our lives.”
Details: Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at the La Peña Cultural Center at 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; follow the restaurant at instagram.com/loscilantros.
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