Edgemont’s Original Mexican Eatery is Returning to the North Shore

Cantina Norte promises to bring the spirit of the original Cafe Norte back.

July 18, 2018

By David Kitai / Photo: Christine Siracusa, Unsplash

The year was 1998: Google was incorporated, Saving Private Ryan topped the box offices, and Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: the Ocarina of Time. A good year…except that Vancouver lost one if its first solid forays into Mexican food.

In 1998, Edgemont’s Cafe Norte, a regular on VanMag’s restaurant awards list at the time, ended its decade-long run slinging shrimp and papaya quesadillas to the happy diners of North Van. Even a quarter-million dollar neighbourhood initiative of meal pre-payments wasn’t enough to stop the beloved spot from closing its doors.

Now, twenty years later, the children of the original owners are bringing the spirit of Cafe Norte back to Edgemont. Jeremy Mitchell and Katie Moody will be opening the new Cantina Norte, bringing an updated version of the greatest hits Mexican cuisine their parents, Phillip and Linda Mitchell, first introduced to the neighbourhood.

“Both of our first jobs were in the restaurant,” said Jeremy, “we were known in the neighbourhood as the kids who brought you chips and salsa.” The early exposure stuck and Jeremy and Katie have both spent their careers in the food industry.

Katie Moody and her dad, Phillip Mitchell, at the site of the new Cantina Norte (Photo: courtesy Cantina Norte)

The planned menu isn’t finalized but the siblings have brought their dad back in as a consultant, refining and reworking the hundred-item tome of a ’90s restaurant menu into something more modern and manageable. Cafe Norte’s old classics, however, will be on show at the cantina: the aforementioned shrimp and papaya quesadillas, chicken and mango chimichangas, and chili rellenos.

Jeremy and Katie know that the Mexican scene in Vancouver today is a little more saturated than back in ’90s, but they still claim to offer something unique. “Almost all the Mexican places in Vancouver are taco shops,” said Jeremy. “There aren’t as many places here doing a full range of mexican food that isn’t focused on tacos or isn’t bringing more central american elements.” At the moment, the siblings are debating whether they are going to have tacos on the menu at all.

There have been some other benefits to the boom in Mexican food. Katie and Jeremy say the range of ingredients being brought in today would be a pipe dream for their dad back in the ‘90s.

Jeremy and Katie are most excited to be bringing their dad’s dream back to Edgemont. “It was so important for us to be back in that neighbourhood,” said Katie, “we almost didn’t think that was going to happen until we connected with a developer who happened to have been a regular customer at Cafe Norte. He was so excited to get the chance to bring it back to Edgemont village.”

Cantina Norte won’t be open until this winter but in the meantime Jeremy and Katie will be setting up at the Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver, serving up shrimp taquitos, chorizo quesadillas, and papas bravas August 3rd through 12th.

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