La Catrina is a great space on 18th street in Pilsen. Its lively murals beckon you to step in and you are welcomed by all kinds of catrinas (typical Mexican female skeleton representations of Death) displayed all over a very light, spacious, and colorful interior.
Inside you will find three large rooms and each of them has a distinct feel and personality.
The east room is darkened by the curtains behind the stage for live music and has high tables and stools as well as a rack with merchandise for sale. The tin ceilings and the low light make it feel more like a bar than a cafe, even though they don’t serve alcohol.
The middle room is where you’ll find the highest traffic and all the activity as the patrons order their food and drinks. This room has a few couches with coffee tables, plush chairs with side tables, and a couple of wooden communal tables with colorful chairs surrounded by bright-colored walls. You can also sit at stools on the bars by the windows to watch Pilsen life go by.
On my most recent visit I also discovered they have an outdoor patio with a few tables, a grill, and what looks like a stage. I didn’t know this existed and I’ve been coming here for years. Maybe they do something cool here on summer evenings, I’d have to investigate.
La Catrina’s menu is mostly sandwich-based, but they also offer locally-baked pastries, coffee, espresso drinks, and some teas, including yerba mate. I like to look for their Mexican specials when I visit and they never disappoint. This time I got molletes (a comfort dish from my childhood consisting of toasted bolillo with beans and salsa) and a Dirty Abuelita (a Mexican hot chocolate with a shot of espresso).