Taste – Winter 2023
A FAMILY LOVE
By Griffin Nelson | Photos By Evermore Photo Co.
There’s something about home cooking that adds an extra special element to a dish and the dining experience. Perhaps it’s the extra love served up in recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, practiced hands that understand that there’s more to a tamale than pork and masa wrapped up in a corn husk or banana leaf.
Cindy Meza is part owner of Cantaritos Café along with other members of her family, including her sister-in-law, Mayra Barrentos, and mother, Rogelia Gallares, who acts as the head chef and main cook. “It was my mom’s dream to have a business,” says Meza, emphasizing the work and determination that each family member and employee has put in to make the restaurant a reality. “Everything is about my mom,” she says, noting the family’s desire to make Cantaritos Café special for the woman who worked so hard as a single mom to support the family she moved from Mexico 21 years ago.
“It’s hard to start a business from zero,” mentions Meza. “We have kids; we have a family.” But what makes everything worth it is the customers. “[What we have here] is unique. You can’t find it anywhere else. I love when my customers are willing to try new things and they love it!”
The Latin-American restaurant is indeed unique. In addition to traditional Mexican favorites, the menu features dishes from Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia and beyond. “We’re trying to be more homemade, to make everything as fresh as we can.”
Meza’s personal favorites are the shrimp dishes. “I like the Camarones Enchilados because I like spicy.” The sautéed onions and chipotle sauce add a nice heat to the plate. The café is particularly well known for their breakfast. Open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Cantaritos Café is the place to go for huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos and chilaquiles.
“Every weekend we have a special, unique plate that you can’t find anywhere else.” Drawing on years of experience cooking both at home and within the restaurant industry, the team follow’s Gallares’ lead to create dishes like arepas, pozole stew and dessert empanadas with sweet plantains and Nutella. On any given day, dishes will pair beautifully with homemade aqua fresca and horchata. Coffee and espresso beverages are perfect along with the Papas Con Chorizo Skillet or even their popular pancakes!
Whatever the dish, it is sure to be served up with the love and warmth of a family eager to serve and excited to share some favorites.
“Brewers make the wart, yeast makes the beer. We just make the yeast happy,” joke Paul Skinner and Mark Johnson, owners of Athentic Brewing Company. They make the brewing process sound easy, but in all seriousness their more than 50 years of combined experience as scientists makes them ideally suited to understand the nuances required to make Athens’ favorite beverage.
That background and more than two decades of friendship made them perfect for the industry. In 2011 they started brewing as part of a church group.
“We’d been drinking craft beer for a while but the process was intriguing — there’s so much art and science [involved].” As scientists, and eventually business owners, Skinner and Johnson understood the importance of a product that not only tastes good but is also reproducible and consistent.
Craft beer in the United States is known for being creative, and with the high concentration of breweries in Athens, it’s important to stand out. Consequently, the flagships generally have a special twist and there is always a rotating selection of unique seasonal beers.
Open all week, Athentic Brewing Company has an event almost every night at their location in Normaltown. Their expansive outdoor space is perfect for movie nights, shopping at the West Broad Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays or soaking up beautiful days with a friend. Try your hand at their weekly trivia, along with UGA away-game watch parties hosted by the university’s Alumni Association, salsa classes, comedy shows and more.
Johnson and Skinner credit the success of Athentic Brewing Company to their staff. They have gathered a team around them that not only fills in any gaps but builds each other up in the process. Sarah Frazer acts as creative manager and Katrain Jones generally works front of house but, as a home-brewer, developed the recipe for Athentic’s seasonal favorite, Lil’ Pimpkin.
Many of the weekly events are hosted by staff members, highlighting their additional gifts and talents. Even beer flights can be determined by the bar staff for those who want to try something new but aren’t sure where to start.
Look for brews like
• Tamave Pivo literally translates to Dark Lager from Czech. While managing to remain very light at about 4% ABV, the darker malt used brings in notes of chocolate and roasted caramel.
• Wide Open was brewed in collaboration with Visit Athens, an IPA that honors the creative and welcoming atmosphere of the city.
• Floodgate is a great crowd pleaser. For those just dipping their toes into the craft beer world it is similar to many recognizable light lager and at only 4.5% ABV it goes down smooth no matter the time of year.
• Escape Button utilizes a selection of popular hops to create a tropical IPA for a crushable beer with beach vacation vibes.