Coyote Cantina: Best of the Beach 2018 Female bartender Kristina Cordova

Kristina Cordova holds a Day of the Dead-themed bottle of KAH Tequila before she whips up another of her famed margaritas. Photo

Kristina Cordova has been working at Coyote Cantina for almost 16 years. That’s a long time in today’s economy, and even more uncommon in the restaurant industry. What keeps her coming back, she said, is the customers.

“Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m going to work. I feel like I’m going to hang out with friends or family,” Cordova said.

Coyote Cantina is “more of a Southwestern restaurant,” as opposed to a traditional Mexican restaurant, Cordova said. Glancing at the menu, one sees less anxiety about mixing the novel and the traditional than might be found at a more fastidious restaurant. The result is that some of the restaurant’s favorite dishes are mash-ups, like the Mexican lasagne and the brie-and-mango quesadilla. For Cordova, what brings it all together is the way what comes out of the kitchen matches up with what’s behind the bar.

“The menu is unique, with a lot of eclectic dishes. And tequila just pairs so well with that type of food,” she said.

Cordova would know. She has to keep track of more 100 different types of tequilas behind the bar. Her favorite thing to use them for, and one of the customers’ favorite ways to consume them, is the famed “silver lightning” margarita. It’s a double shot of 100 percent agave tequila, the restaurant’s patented margarita mix — “the secret is that it’s not as sweet as at a lot of places,” Cordova revealed — and a floater of orange liqueur. Think of it as a Cadillac margarita with a Corvette engine under the hood.

Whether it’s a night on the town or a quick beer before dinner, a good bartender makes a good time easier to have. Cordova said she appreciates being selected, and plans to keep building relationships, one drink at a time.

“We work really hard to make our customers feel…they’re not clients. They’re like our family, our friends,” she said.


Coyote Cantina

531 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach

(310) 376-1066


Runner-up: Kathy Doel (Zane’s Restaurant)

1150 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach

(310) 374-7488



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