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La Catrina Cafe Has Mexican History, Hot Chocolate

By Chloe Riley | March 21, 2013 9:48am

PILSEN — For the last 15 years, La Catrina Cafe co-owner Diana Galicia worked at Home Depot with her husband.

A year and a half ago, they decided they’d had enough of working for someone else.

“You never know if you don’t take that leap. And we decided if it doesn’t work out, we just go back to work. But I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” Galicia said with a smile.

La Catrina, which officially opened its doors laMarch 14 at 1011 W. 18th St., has high windows, Mexican Revolution photos and plenty of Day of the Dead accents.

As it should. The cafe is named after La Calavera Catrina, the iconic Day of the Dead skeleton woman who wears a large hat.

Galicia and her husband Salvadore are originally from Mexico, and ultimately, they want to have film screenings and workshops at the cafe that celebrate Mexican tradition and culture.

“Our idea is to bring the community more together,” Galicia said.

The cafe serves LavAzza coffee and a handful of sandwiches, quesadillas and pastries. Galicia said the chicken salad sandwich, with its grilled chicken and special sauce, already has a following.

By the time La Catrina has its grand opening on April 12, Galicia said she wants to have both gluten-free and vegetarian items on the menu. She’s also bringing in champurrados and atole, traditional Mexican drinks made with corn meal.

The recipes for those drinks come from Galicia’s good friend Leticia Rodarte, the owner of ReciclArte art gallery in Pilsen.

The two women worked at the South Loop Home Depot together and Rodarte encouraged Galicia to follow her dream of opening a cafe. 

“Diana wanted to be her own boss for a long time,” Rodarte said. “She is more like my sister to me. She has been there through my wonderful times, through my rough times, more than anybody else ever has been.”

Rodarte is also responsible for La Catrina Cafe’s Mexican Chocolate Con Chile, an Aztec sipping chocolate that will make its debut with the grand opening.

“I usually make it at my house and I’m addicted to it,” Rodarte said of the chocolate, which does not contain milk and will be served in espresso cups.

“The chile is the heart of the drink and that’s what makes it exotic. It gives it a nice kick and brings out the flavor of the chocolate,” she said.

Galicia said so far, the community’s response to the cafe has been one of support and excitement.

“They love it. They’re like, ‘We’ve been waiting for you,’” she said.