New eastside Mexican restaurant hopes to convince area residents to try dishes from deep in Mexico

photo by: Courtesy: Cascada La Golondrina

Molcajete is a dish that features beef, shrimp, a souplike red chile sauce and pads from a prickly pear cactus. The dish is one of several traditional Mexican offerings that the new restaurant Cascada La Golondrina has on its menu.

Hector Juarez grew up in the border town of El Paso, Texas, so he knows something about both Tex and Mex. For one, he knows that particular style of Americanized Mexican food isn’t always what people are looking for. Or, at least, he thinks that is the case. A new Mexican restaurant in eastern Lawrence is set to find out.

Cascada la Golondrina has opened in the shopping center at 23rd and Harper streets, and while it plans to serve the favorite Tex-Mex dishes, it really hopes to find a market with people craving traditional Mexican dishes too.

“There is not a huge Hispanic demographic in Lawrence yet, but it is growing,” Juarez said. “We want to provide those foods that Mexican people are used to, and we also want to provide dishes for people who want something new.”

photo by: Courtesy: Cascada La Golondrina

Grilled tilapia with avocado and Mexican spices is one of several seafood dishes on the menu at Cascada La Golondrina.

That can be something simple like Filete De Pescado, which is a whole, grilled tilapia served with avocado and Mexican spices. Or it can be a tad more, let’s say, pointed. One traditional dish on the menu is Molcajete, which features the pads of a prickly pear cactus — a national plant of Mexico that I may have to turn to if the talk of meatless Mondays ever returns to my house again.

“If any plant has the consistency of steak, this would be it,” Juarez said. (And no, you don’t have to worry about the barbs.)

The cactus pads, called nopales, are combined with a “medley of meats,” that include big portions of steak and shrimp, and a red pepper sauce.

“There are some dishes that will have a kick,” Juarez said of the traditional offerings.

Add a Mexican shrimp cocktail to that list. The dish can be made to order, as in you can request how many jalapeños you’d like added to the cocktail sauce, which also includes good amounts of avocado and lemon.

The menu includes about 10 seafood dishes, but it also is heavy in the turf portion of a surf and turf. The menu has about a half-dozen steak dishes that are served in a traditional style, which often means a thin cut of meat that is sauced.

While Juarez is from the El Paso area, his other business partners — Miguel and Alan Raymundo — are from deeper in Mexico. The uncle and nephew duo are from the far southern Mexican state of Chiapas, which counts multiple waterfalls among its natural attractions. The waterfalls are part of the origins of the restaurant’s name. Cascada is the Spanish word for waterfall, and the Golondrina area is home to many of them.

The trio, though, is not new to American restaurants. They’ve all been involved with the operation of Charritos Plaza in Eudora. Juarez said that restaurant is more of a Tex/Mex style establishment that has lots of dishes with plenty of crunch and plenty of cheese. Cascada will feature some of those same dishes, but the trio is betting that a larger population and a university community that has more international influences will make Lawrence the right place to introduce new menu options as well.

“The pandemic threw a wrench in our plans big time, but we basically are just taking the risk and hoping this is a new spin for Lawrence with the dishes that we are bringing,” Juarez said.

The restaurant is in the space at 1800 W. 23rd St. that formerly housed Tres Mexicanos restaurant, though Juarez said he and his partners had no connection to that former business.

Cascada is a reminder that new restaurants certainly are still opening during the pandemic. I’ve got several on my list to write about in the near future, including a new Asian Wok restaurant in downtown Lawrence and a barbecue restaurant in Eudora that is run by the owners of a popular food truck. And I definitely want to get down to The Commissary at 19th and Haskell, which has converted an old restaurant in that shopping center into a concept that serves as a bit of an incubator/commercial kitchen space for several food ventures in town, including Awake the Dead doughnuts. Look for updates on all of that in the coming days and weeks.

photo by: Courtesy: Cascada La Golondrina

Cascada La Golondrina, 1800 E. 23rd St., will also offer traditional Tex-Mex dishes, like enchiladas with beans and rice.


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