Lichas Cantina V

A Perfect Home for Mexican Soul Food

Daniel Brooks - Licha's Cantina

For seven years before opening Licha’s Cantina, Daniel Brooks managed South Congress staple Vespaio Ristorante. When he was offered the opportunity to purchase Papi Tino’s in fall 2013, Brooks consulted respected friends and colleagues. Claude Benayoun, co-owner of Vespaio, suggested to Brooks that this location might be perfect for a casual “mi casa es su casa” Mexican concept they had been noodling on. “As they say, the rest is history,” says Brooks.

Named after his mother, Alicia, and inspired by the flavors he grew up with as a boy in Mexico City, Licha’s Cantina opened in time for SXSW 2014—it was a whirlwind. “In the beginning it was me doing everything on my own! I was in the kitchen; I was hiring and training both back of house and front of house staff; I was creating systems and policies as they were needed,” says Brooks.

But SXSW wasn’t completely wasted on him. “I was working 14 to 16 hours a day every day, but I was doing it for myself and I love what I do. I have never worked and partied as much as I did in my life like I did for those 10 days. At the end of it I looked and felt 20 years older and I probably did shorten my life by a year, but I have no regrets,” says Brooks.

Since settling in, Brooks’ Mexican soul food has become a cozy destination on a street with no shortage of food options—or action. Licha’s big flavors fit in well on East 6th St. Brooks has also worked hard to cultivate a family atmosphere among his staff to complement the homey environment. “being able to create a work environment where the staff feels appreciated and are treated like family because that is what we are at the end of the day.”

As for the greater neighborhood—the times they are a changin’. “I love operating out of this funky little house surrounded by all this new development,” says Brooks. ”It will at one point be one of the last original structures of the east side.”

Brooks wants the East Side to keep its edge, and he has no shortage of other businesses in the neighborhood he recommends. “That’s not a fair question, there are so many that you should visit,” he says. Here’s his list:

  • Justine’s
  • Mongers Fish Market
  • Granny’s Taco
  • Discada
  • Suerte
  • Ramen Tatsu-Ya
  • Revelry
  • Micklethwait BBQ
  • Rosewood
  • Bufalina
  • La Matta

He’s in a tiny house making big flavors in a booming neighborhood surrounded by fine company. He’s right at home.  

Lichas Cantina
Meals & Snacks | East

Licha's Cantina

1306 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702 512-480-5960

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