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Mexican Restaurant Opening Soon on Shawmut Avenue

El Centro chef promises authentic Mexican cuisine at affordable prices.

Mexican restaurant El Centro will be opening its doors soon at the corner of Shawmut and West Concord Street, serving authentic cuisine at affordable prices, chef/owner Allan Rodriguez said.

The restaurant, slated to open May 26, is housed in the former Siraj Café space, sharing an intersection with Latin American favorite . The interior of the space has been completely redone, with much of the work done by Rodriguez himself. Many of the furnishings were brought back from his native Mexico – including ceiling tiles, water pitchers and a hand-painted toilet.

“I wanted to bring a piece of my Mexico to Boston,” Rodriquez said in a press release announcing the restaurant’s opening. “Boston has a lot of quote un-quote authentic Mexican restaurants, but they aren't the type of restaurants you find in Mexico.”

El Centro’s menu will be heavy on the appetizers, which will be priced around $7. The restaurant’s most expensive dish, a Mexican version of Surf and Turf, will cost $25, with most dinners priced at $15.

The restaurant will also be open for lunch and weekend brunches. Rodriguez and his partner, Siraj Cafe owner Rabi Islam, will be applying for a cordial license allowing them to serve beer, wine and certain flavored liquors.

On Tuesday, the pair appeared in front of the Blackstone/Franklin Square Neighborhood Association seeking support for their license application. Neighborhoods in attendance supported the measure, including several West Concord Street residents who had been in talks with the restaurant regarding noise levels related to alcohol and potential outdoor seating.

“We don’t want to disturb their privacy,” Rodriquez said. “We would like to have very good communication so that we can…fix [any] concerns right away.”

In addition, all of the waitstaff will be trained in responsible alcohol service and the restaurant will be employing a bartender (formerly of ), Rodriguez said. An outdoor seating plan along West Concord Street has yet to be approved by the city, but if it is, the plan will be presented to neighbors before being implemented, he said.

Several residents, including Association Treasurer David Wisholek, said the neighborhood restaurant would be a positive addition to the area.

“We need more restaurants in this area that really cater to people who live in the neighborhood,” Wisholek said. “[Somewhere] you can go in the middle of the week and have a nice dinner without breaking your pocketbook.”

Shawmut Ave. resident Jennifer Coplon agreed.

“Frankly, if it goes well it’s going to really help our neighborhood,” she said.

El Centro will serve lunch and dinner Monday through Friday from 11:30 am – 10:00 pm – and brunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am – 10:00 pm.

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