There's a new player in the flame-grilled chicken world from a Dallas food and beverage pro. The restaurant is called Catrina Grill, and it does the kind of grilled chicken with citrusy spices you might find at El Pollo Loco, Pollo Regio, and any number of other Mexican chicken-themed restaurant chains with the word "pollo" in their name.
Catrina comes from Luis Martinez, a restaurant veteran who helped open the Nuevo Leon chain and who served as a VP at Pollo Regio for many years, where he helped debut the concept in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Catrina is his creation. "I loved working for Pollo Regio, but I wanted to do a fresh concept that incorporated other elements from my 30 years in the restaurant business," he says.
Catrina embodies the ranchero style cooking found in south Texas, with chicken charbroiled on an open grill and served with grilled onions and serrano peppers, plus rice, beans and tortillas.
There are the expected chicken options such as a whole chicken with all the accompaniments for $17, allowing a family to eat for under $20, like a better version of fast-food, with fresh ingredients at an affordable price.
But Catrina also has a salsa bar as well as restaurant-style daily specials such as tamales, a chili relleno, or enchiladas.
There are fresh salads such as the taco salad with chicken, jicama, avocado, and tomato. There's a tortilla soup reminiscent of the one once served at Nuevo Leon.
There are street tacos and tortas, served with fries. There's a baked potato you can get topped with meat or make it veggie and get it topped with onion and grilled peppers.
Catrina also incorporates a bakery with breads and pastries, including fruit-filled empanadas.
"I'm a pastry chef as well, and we make all the breads on the menu," Ramirez says. "We make the bread for our hamburgers, we make the tortillas, and we make sweetbreads."
His pastry operation is located at his store in Lewisville, and there's another Catrina's located in Longview, Texas.
In 2018, he's rolled out an expansion, with two new restaurants: one in Denton on University Drive — ideal for student fare — and another that opened in May at 2575 Walnut Hill Ln. in Dallas. Both took over former Pollo Regio locations.
"But my goal is to make something that's friendly for everyone," he says.