A Mexican Fine Dining Restaurant From Two of Sacramento’s Top Chefs Opens This Summer (2024)

Two of Sacramento’s most-hyped chefs are teaming up for a highly anticipated new Mexican restaurant. Cantina Pedregal will open in Folsom, just east of Sacramento, this spring. The restaurant comes from Brad Cecchi of East Sacramento’s Canon and Patricio Wise of Roseville’s Nixtaco, both of which have been designated as Bib Gourmand restaurants in the Michelin Guide. Wise’s restaurant Nixtaco debuted in 2015 to huge acclaim, with dishes such as a fried avocado taco with chipotle-peanut aioli garnering him and his wife Cinthia Martinez recognition from Food & Wine magazine. Cecchi, a Sacramento-raised cook, earned a Michelin star at Calistoga’s Solbar before showing the city what he could do at his own restaurant; he opened Canon with co-owner Clay Nutting in 2017.

The Cantina Pedregal menu will be a sprawling fine dining library of North Eastern Mexican cuisine, specifically dishes from Monterrey and presentations like hunks of goat and botana- or appetizer-style courses. Wise’s distilled spirits including his vodka, gin, and rum will show up on the co*cktail side of the menu, too. Like at Nixtaco, Northeastern Mexican cuisine is the main focus but with a higher level of service and ambiance. Freshly-made tortillas will arrive tableside and there will be margaritas, but with finer base spirits and more thoughtful preparations. The new restaurant will also be much larger than Nixtaco and will offer a more fine dining-like experience similar to what’s offered at Canon.

That goat, for instance, will be a braised rendition of Monterrey-style cabrito, or baby goat. Canon’s goat and lamb pavé is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, and that level of precision will be applied to Wise’s traditional dish. A bit of the usual heat found in Mexican cuisine will be dialed back for the “Sacramento palate,” as the Cantina Pedregal team calls it, but nothing at Cantina will be old school. Boldness is the name of the game, Wise says. “It’s a higher-touch restaurant than Nixtaco from a service and presentation standpoint,” Cecchi adds. “It’s what we do at Canon with really cool Northeastern Mexican flavors. The Sacramento region is more adventurous [than it used to be].”

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On the co*cktail side, a to-be-revealed bar director is joining the project to put Wise’s distilling front and center. They know guests will come in looking for margaritas, which they’re fine with, but they’ll encourage diners to go a bit further with what spirits or flavors they pair with those margs. Wise, for instance, hopes to show off the gin and tonic culture in Monterrey, or the now-everywhere cinnamon-y carajillo; perhaps letting a diner know that’s how it’s done in Northeastern Mexico might convince them to venture out of their spicy tequila comfort zone. The beverage program will also include lots of beer, with local breweries alongside classic Mexican lagers.

It was spring 2023 when the plans for Cantina Pedregal were laid, though it was in 2019 that the Michelin Guide granted Canon a Bib alongside only two other restaurants in the area. Nixtaco joined the ranks in 2021. When Cecchi saw the restaurant space — adjacent to Mikuni on East Bidwell Street — he thought it would be an ideal Nixtaco location. He called Wise who brought his wife with him to see the location. They thought it would be smart to bring what Cecchi calls the “tavern movement,” referencing Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco and Gramercy Tavern in New York, to the capital. “We walked away and all of us were thinking ‘We should just do something together,’” Cecchy says. “That’s how we’re seeing this cantina concept.”

These two don’t think they would have even tried to open this restaurant 10 years ago. That’s because Sacramento, according to Eater and the New York Times, is one of the hottest places in the country for good food and drink. This is going to be the first fine dining Mexican-inspired restaurant in the Sacramento area, Cecchi says. Though he points to elevated sit-down restaurants such as Zocalo as similar, he says Cantina Pedregal will be a first of its kind in the city. For his part, Wise says this gives him a chance to show what his home state of Monterrey is doing culinarily these days. “When I opened 10 years ago, people only kind of accepted it,” Wise says. “It helps that people are more open-minded these days. We have to mold their expectations so we can meet them.”

Cantina Pedregal (185 Placerville Road Suite 150) will open in early summer 2024.

A Mexican Fine Dining Restaurant From Two of Sacramento’s Top Chefs Opens This Summer (2024)

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