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New Owners and a New Look for Sunset Cantina

Revised food and cocktail menu, return to some famous classics


Sunset Cantina, the popular Tex-Mex restaurant and bar in West Campus, has new owners, as well as a newly revised and expanded food and drink menu and a redesigned bar, featuring more TVs, two pool tables, and dartboards.

East Coast Tavern Group acquired the restaurant in November, after Sunset’s previous owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2017. The restaurant group also owns and manages the popular Beacon Hill eateries Emmet’s Pub, Scholars, 6B Lounge, and Carrie Nation, as well as Magnolia Smokehouse in Brookline Village.

East Coast Tavern Group operations manager Oran McGonagle says the changes were made to improve the dining experience for patrons and provide a fun, comfortable environment. As part of the rehab, the entire kitchen was gutted and replaced. The restaurant’s new chef, Jorge Duarte, was recruited from Masa, the popular Southwestern eatery on Tremont Street, and he has introduced a variety of new dishes, among them a pork tostada, a steak tip dish topped with a green herb and garlic chimichurri sauce, and a sampler dish featuring a mix of empanadas, wings, ribs, nachos, and curly fries—great for sharing. All sauces and salsas are now made in-house, McGonagle says.

The pulled pork tostada

The revamped menu, designed by new chef Jorge Duarte, includes a pulled pork tostada, featuring a crispy tortilla baked with pork carnitas, green enchilada sauce, Mexican cheeses, caramelized onions, roasted poblano, and scallions, with a chipotle aioli.

Also new are Sunset’s daily lunch and dinner specials. And in a nod to college students with limited budgets, the restaurant is now serving two side dishes, not one, with any entrée. Longtime fans will be happy to hear that the new management has brought back the restaurant’s original (and legendary) Fiesta Nachos (tortilla chips topped with jack and cheddar cheeses, jalapeños, black olives, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, scallions, sour cream, and guacamole, with a side of salsa). And we’re happy to report they’re as good as ever.

The cocktail menu has undergone some significant changes as well. Sunset has introduced a weekly rotating margarita on tap. As part of the overhaul, a new draft system was installed: all of the old lines were ripped out and the two dozen new lines now serve a variety of local craft beers, including the popular Lord Hobo. There are nine margarita options, and more than 100 tequilas, a big change from previously. The bar has undergone a significant makeover, too. A wall was taken down to open up the bar area and provide additional seating. In addition to new furniture, the interior also has two striking murals by Cambridge-based graffiti artist Aukone, with Aztec symbols.

A striking mural in Sunset Cantina

The new decor includes striking murals by local graffiti artist Aukone.

More good news—Sunset Cantina’s new owners are continuing the weekly Stump! Monday trivia night, as well as the popular Taco Tuesdays ($3 tacos from 6 pm to closing) and half-priced nachos on Wednesday nights.

McGonagle says he’s anxious for the BU community to rediscover Sunset Cantina. “I hope students, faculty, and staff will feel a warm, fun, and inviting atmosphere at the Cantina again,” he says. “It’s been reborn.”

Sunset Cantina, 916 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, is open daily, Sunday to Wednesday, 11:30 am to 1 am, and Thursday to Saturday, 11:30 am to 2 am; phone: 617-731-8646. The restaurant accepts all major credit cards.

Jacob Gurvis can be reached at jgurvis@bu.edu.

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