A taste of Mexico in Nelson

01:45, Jan 29 2013
Nicola Cantrick
MEXICAN MENU: Tacos, burritos and chimichangas are all part of the Mexican street food menu at Nicola's Cantina.

Whether it’s tacos, burritos, or tasty churros, a new cantina is bringing Mexican street food to Nelson.

Nicola Cantrick, formerly at the Suter Cafe, has opened Nicola’s Cantina, inside the building occupied by the Edito international furniture store on Vanguard St.

The cantina offers coffee and Mexican street food such as tacos, burritos and quesadillas, as well as desserts inspired by the country.

She had decided to open the new cafe as a way of reinventing herself, and had chosen Mexican cuisine because she was ‘‘a bit mad’’, she said.

‘‘I think I have got a Latin soul.’’

She came across the empty space in the building, and asked the owners whether she could move in and run her cantina there.


The two businesses were separate, but complemented each other, she said.

‘‘It’s lovely because they have an international feel with their furniture.’’

She had spent a year living in California in the 1990s, and ‘‘lived off’’ Mexican food, and had been learning Spanish for years, she said.

There was a popular misconception that Mexican food was just cheese and chilli, but Mexico was a large country with a variety of styles.

The location of the cantina meant there was plenty of parking, sun, and businesses with staff after a decent lunch, she said.

‘‘Mechanics have quite sophisticated palettes, a lot of guys are coming in and getting tacos and burritos.’’

The response from Nelsonians had been fantastic so far, with plenty of people coming by to try the food, including a large number of Californians and Texans who were used to Mexican food.

Barista Sandy Di Scianni, who is half-Mexican, said the food was authentic.

‘‘The sauces that she makes are fantastic, nice and spicy with lots of flavour. It is like the food carts around California.

‘‘It’s exactly what Nelson needed.’’