For all the SLU students craving authentic Mexican Food, look no further than West Pine. Diablitos will open tentatively on Tuesday, Sept. 1 in the building that previously held Cafe Ventana. Diablitos offers affordable pricing for college students and has big plans for the future, including a happy hour and cantina in the classy style of an old speak-easy.
Diablitos already had a strong connection with the SLU campus. The restaurant was previously housed in a historic post office from 2011 to 2017. However, when the lease expired, SLU decided to tear down the building to create room for student housing. The old building was in the area between Spring Hall and the Village Apartments. The SLU customers of the past are not gone, though. On the restaurant’s Facebook page, after one post announcing the new location, the comments were filled with people asking about their favorite dishes. One user wrote, “Now we have to move back so we can have date nights like we did when I was at SLU.”
Diablitos’ Reopening Video and Customers Comments
When talking to one of the owners, Laura Mennemeier, she highlighted the different ways the restaurant is preparing to open safely amidst a global pandemic. The restaurant has also worked to become a fast-casual dining experience where customers order at the counter before sitting down. In addition, there will be an outdoor patio with plenty of seating for guests, a hot commodity when considering the virus. Julia Pasqualucci, a sophomore SLU student, mentioned, “I have started looking at what restaurants offer outdoor seating, especially while the weather is this nice.” When asked about specific sanitation precautions, Mennemeier elaborated, “Sanitation methods include but are not limited to: contactless payment, capacity limited to 25 percent indoors with tables six feet apart, lots of outdoor seating, a hand washing sink next to the front door for guests and staff and proper cleaning and sanitation training for all staff.” At a school where students are passionate about staying on campus, these precautions are comforting.
As with any great restaurant, Diablitos has their signature dishes. Diablitos was known for their salsa bar where customers could pick and choose their salsa of the night. The salsas will now be behind a display case where workers will dish out the favorites. Mennemeier said, “I’m not giving flavor details about the salsas. You’ll have to try them all to find out! They’re $2 each or 3 for $5.” The head chef has been with the restaurant since the original location, which has created an environment of trust in the restaurant where creativity can bloom. The street tacos are a must have, specifically the baja shrimp. In addition to food, the owners also have plans to create the Cantina, a full-service bar with a collection of high-end liquors. SLU students will have a hard time deciding what to order with so many great options. A final word from the owner, “We’ve been anticipating opening Diablitos Cantina since before the COVID shutdown. We couldn’t be more excited for the official opening!”