The Day – Surf Cantina in Westerly focuses on Mexican food and cocktails
Opened last November in a completely renovated location that was previously occupied by other restaurants, Surf Cantina is a different new restaurant for the owners of Chapter One Food & Drink in Mystic and Guilford.
Rather than the new American cuisine they serve at their other locations, Surf Cantina’s menu is focused on Mexican fare and cocktails.
We visited in the early evening on a beautiful Sunday, so they had opened the large rolling doors, allowing the cool air and sunshine to stream down Canal Street. When those doors are open, it’s indoor dining with all the best benefits of being outdoors.
Surf Cantina’s mantra is “Tacos + Tequila,” so we started with the Cantina Guacamole, $11, billed as fresh made-to-order and served with warm tortilla chips. The guacamole was flavorful, on the chunky side, which we like, but topped with too many chopped jalapenos for our liking. We eliminated most of them. The fries were hot and the service plentiful.
Another entree we shared was the octopus and chorizo, $15, which was interesting, in an unusual way. The combination included ingredients that I had never seen combined before – crispy octopus, chorizo, white sweet potato and macha cashew salsa. If you don’t know, Macha is a ground powder of processed green tea leaves that is rich in antioxidants and touted for its health benefits.
The dish was ok, but not sure if we would order it again as the flavor of the octopus was masked by the Macha. And there was something about sweet potatoes and chorizo with octopus that just didn’t work for our palates, but maybe we’re in the minority because our waitress told us it was a popular menu item.
We enjoyed the Pork Carnitas Bowl, $21, with slow-braised pork, rice and beans, Pico de Gallo, Chihuahua cheese, saffron onions and chipotle aioli. It was a lovely melody of flavors, and arrived hot. Our small complaint was that the rice could have been steamed a bit longer so it wasn’t that hard. But overall it was a good and tasty dish.
We also tried the Pork Belly Tacos, $17, and for an additional $5 we added a third taco to the plate of two. The tacos were made with pork belly, pineapple salsa, fried onions, and a side of rice and beans. There were also chopped tomatoes, a bit of cheese and cilantro. They were good, but not top notch. They could have used more toppings, especially the pork belly.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Surf Cantina, which has an expansive bar, cabanas, tables or highs to sit on, a pool table, and live bands or a DJ on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as a Sunday brunch. They have done an amazing job refreshing the space which has housed several different restaurants for many decades and added another dining and dining option to Westerly’s growing list of downtown.