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November 26, 2010

Diablita Cantina closing?

diablitaIt looks that way. There's this message, posted Wednesday night, on the restaurant's Facebook page: “11/27/10 Last night for Diablita Cantina. Open from 4pm-2am. All daily drink specials from open to close...... $5 all Margaritas, $10 Pitchers of Sangria, $3 Drafts, 1/2 price Mexican beer and more!!!!!! While supplies last. See you Saturday."

No one answered the phone at Diablita when I called. If the news is true, though, this will be the third restaurant to close in the old Holland Manufacturing Building since late 2007, when the Annapolis imports Lemongrass and Tsunami started their truncated runs.

News of La Diablita’s closing came just days after the zoning was approved for the development of a boutique hotel just one block south on the Central Avenue corridor. 

Baltimore Sun photo/Barbara Haddock Taylor
Posted by Richard Gorelick at 2:44 PM | | Comments (56)


This should not come as a surprise. In a city where a block or two can make a world of difference, Diablita was nowhere near the dreadful Inner Harbor East and its perceived safety. The Perkins Homes are much closer than IHE. I have a pal who lives in the Perkins Homes and he does not leave his place at night. I imagine the perception of non-residents may be even more negative, no?

That means today is the penultimate day.

I have a serious suggestion.

This post could have been on Midnight Sun, but of course, it wasn't. In the olden days of D@L 1.0 and MS 1.0 Sam and Liz often had similar posts or one took a cue from the other because of overlap.

Now nobody is covering the bar scene. I think when this blog gets rebranded it should cover restaurants and bars. Face it, most bars have food. Is Alewife a bar or a restaurant? It depends upon what you do with it.

I think Midnight Sun should focus on what Mr.Maza seems interested in, music. Rename Midnight Sun too, call it Pitchforkette or whatever. This blog is great and I don't want to add to Mr. Gorelick's workload but MS died with Sessa's departure.

Mr. Gorelick seems to be more of a bon vivant than the former doyenne blog mistress. Mr. Maza can't possibly review the bar scene now since every bar owner has an eye out for him after the Alewife Death Watch imbroglio. I asked the owner of Bad Decisions if he had ever been there. No. That's amazing. Maza didn't even mention the Sun's own blog party at RA Sushi. Mr. Gorelick, well, nobody dislikes him and his picture isn't published. I hear he has a handlebar mustache though.

I'm not trying to start trouble or hurt anyone, but at this point the Sun is not a credible source of information on the bar scene. There is a huge overlap of the bar and restaurant scene.

Make GorelickWorld the place to go if you want some food and drink and Pitchforkette the place to go if you're intererested in the 2011 touring schedule for Hanson, Justin Bieber or Rye Rye (really?!?) or second-hand cut and paste journalism.

It makes a lot of sense and yes, it does have a lot to do with the personalities on deck. It would have been a ludicrous (and hilarious) idea when Mrs. Large was at the helm, but Richard, like Sessa, seems to be an affable guy who gets around, knows the city, and most importantly likes the city.


Agree, Sam Crow. I'll not fall easily into the obvious, but Mr Gorelick has endeared himself to me, and seems to leave the house quite often. Two traits to be desired in a reviewer.

I agree with Sam Crow as well.

Blogs are their authors, period. D@L and MS are both not the same blogs they used to be, and both should have been renamed when new writers took over.

The Beastly Hon, I agree that Diablita Cantina's location is not ideal, but there are other restaurants in the area that have been successful for years. Just look at Lennys or Atmans.

Also, I've worked right next to the Perkins homes for the past two years and have never had any problems. You just have to be smart about it. Don't walk within the Perkins square at night, if you're outside of it you're fine though.

Corey, I am not disagreeing with you, but I am talking about customer perception, not my personal feelings about the neighborhood. I have had no problems going there - but in a metro area where many suburbanites (who do constitute a sizable portion of the clientele of many successful restaurants) are fearful of coming into the city in the first place, being near the Perkins Homes is not in a restaurant's favor.

I wonder how much nighttime business Lenny's and Attman's do, BTW?

I live in Little Italy and I have badass urban spidey senses. I've been from Kosova to Panama City (the country) barrios to locked down barrios under martial law in Asuncion to Iguazu and I know what feels safe and what doesn't. I would NEVER walk from my house on High Street to the other side of Central Ave at night alone. It's just not safe.

In security work there is safe and not safe. The block that Diabalitos is on is not safe. Generally or usually safe doesn't cut it. I'm armed to the teeth and have no qualms about putting down someone who tries to hurt me, but that's not something I want to engage in.

The Beastly Hon, I agree that Diablita Cantina's location is not ideal, but there are other restaurants in the area that have been successful for years. Just look at Lennys or Atmans.

I think there is also a difference between day time safe and night time safe. Lenny's and Attmans close around around 6 or 7.

Yes, day safe vs night safe. Only an insane person would go on Atman's block after dark. It's all about witnesses.

Sam Crow (obvious Sons of Anarchy ref), yes and Richard should review TV shows, movies and Civil War re-enactments.

I agree with Sam - in regards to Midnight Sun being a disaster. If the new kid wants to turn it into some kind of music scene blog, thats cool, just rename it and start a new blog about the bar scene which actually had quite the following before Sessa opted out.

I also agree that Diablita Cantina's location is an issue. Even with the 3 dollar little italy garage right across the street, you're still chancing being the only person walking around Central Ave at night just a stone throw from Baltimore loveliest citizens.

Personally if they're looking for a new place to build an arena, why not level Perkins homes to the ground and build it there?

a new place to build an arena, why not level Perkins homes to the ground and build it there?

That is an insanely good idea. Therefore, it will never happen.

I think most people (except for a few cranky scab pickers) have given up on Midnight Sun. There is little evidence that Maza even lives here. Anything local is cut and paste from another blog or a DC news source and telephone contact seems to be the only thing resembling human interaction.

An agoraphobic non-drinker nightlife reporter makes for an amusing premise in a Woody Allen movie, but is just a waste of time in real life. How is it possible that the nightlife reporter doesn't even mention the Mobbies or the Sun-hosted Mobbies party or attend it?

Without actual human contact with the people and places of Baltimore, that blog is literally phoned in. There is no joy, no context, just the feeling that he would rather be anywhere doing anything other than this. It's palpable.

From crab houses to strip mall gems, ...

You might want to rethink that. I'm seeing a weird Venn diagram in my head. Aren't most crab houses in strip malls anyway? And the range is Dorothy Parkeresque.

That is all.

For over a decade, my husband has been walking home Friday nights and holiday nights from our synagogue at Lloyd and Lombard streets, cate-corner to Attman's Deli. Please stop being afraid of your own shadows.

Their menu was unapproachable - not shocked. This town needs a solid Tex-Mex spot that makes their own tortillas, does the standards well, and serves white cheese dip. We don't have the population density to support fringe offerings.

So, where would you all rehouse the law abiding majority of the residents in the Perkins Homes? I suggest Guilford.

Detroit. I hear everything is better there

What does "rehouse" people mean? Don't adults normally just look around and find a place to rent or buy? If an area gets repurposed I'd figure people would scout out a new place, like anybody would.

Better to re-purpose people.

People in public housing generally don't have a lot of housing options.

Public housing created a slave class that only serves the noblesse oblige of phonies like Detroit Lissa. Real liberalism frees people and doesn't enslave them in artificial ghettos that subsume de facto liberal folderol and crypto-fascism.

Real liberalism liberates.

It probably would be a bad idea to take people who may have difficulty coping with reality and move them to Guilford. Not only would you not be assisting them in any meaningful way, but you would devalue what's currently a well-maintained area. Why would you subdivide all those nice homes and ruin them?

I know it's meant as a joke, but the underlying sentiment is pretty scary. Castro or Mugabe would approve though!

Well crap. I have a Groupon I still haven't used there.

Baltimanda, isn't this place owned by someone who owns another restaurant in town? You should be able to use the Groupon there. If not, call them out here and shame them into it.

It's December 29 and the last post was FROM November 26!!!! WHERE is Stan Sessa?!?!?! This BLOG sux NOW! ! ! !

No ONE cares about CELERY! What is your obsession WITH celery AND Wink Martindale??????]

WE DEMAND SATisfaction!!!!!

BaltoSteve, why is the idea of moving public housing residents to Guilford scarier than the idea of moving public housing residents anywhere, with no plan or help, just so that (maybe - no one has mentioned the food or the service at Diablita Cantina, maybe they just sucked) middle class people would feel comfortable eating in the neighbourhood?

Actually the service was pretty slow during lunch - I swear one time there was only 1 person working in the front and back of the house the last time I was there.

Because people are afraid to say it, but NO ONE wants public housing residents living in their community!

Lissa does.

The service at Diablita was dismal, no matter how many people were in the restaurant or how many servers/bartenders were working. I have been there several times, once when it was busy, once when I sat at a high-top bar table when there were three other tables in the restaurant, and one at 3 p.m. on a weekend afternoon when we were the only table in the restaurant. All three times, we experienced dismal service. Took forever to take our drink orders, took forever to get drinks out, took forever for apps to come, sometimes apps came at the same time as our meals (the place was selling homemade guacamole and chips for like $8 for the cheapest plate, so the apps had better be damned good and come out on time!). Instead of serving hearty, simple tex mex food jazzed up a bit with a contemporary flair, as I was hoping for, Diablita sold overpriced, sometimes odd food served in strangely tiny portions (a half a shot glass of sour cream for three petite tacos -- peculiar). Guacamole doesn't have to be served in a tiny square finger bowl from Crate and Barrel to be delicious. It just has to be delicious, and served efficiently and in a timely manner, and more than two tablespoons, and not $8!

Please stop saying Tex-Mex just because it rhymes. Tex-Mex is the sh*tiest version of Mexican food on Earth. Aspire for higher.

Plus it reminds me of my moron ex-gf who said jalapeños were ":gross" because they were slimy. Her idea of Tex-Mex was nachos made from canned ingredients at a bar with Cheez Whiz, basically gas station Mex.

All this hatin on Tex-Mex.

Viva La Fajita!

Tex Mex is just plain bad. They gave us the fajita. That is all. The rest of their contribution is crap. Aim higher.Sonora, bitches.


Totally agree. Midnight Sun is a bad joke. From the seriously prentious self portrait on the side on the blog - really, guy?

To the obsession with Rye Rye - seriously?

And the total lack of enthusiasm or any feeling at all, let MidnightSun die.

As an FYI from a semi-regular customer of Diablita,
they bought space in Fells Point and plan to reopen in the new year.
Honestly, the space on Bank was amazing but the location sucked. The food was delish and creative. It did step out of the traditional "neuvo" mexican style. I will however agree that the portions were small and a bit over-priced. BUT, the nachos were fantastic and their burritos were also great. I never had bad service. I hope that they revamp the menu abit to meet the Fells crowd and lower their prices becuase I will be right there...

Diablita Fan, the old landlord just got a sizeable money judgment against Diablita Cantina. We can only hope that the new location, if and when it should open, will do better.

Re: Diablita Fan's info: What would a good name for the reboot in Fells Point: El Sticky Diablita?

OK, I emailed Groupon and they credited my account. So, there you go. Almost too easy.

If Tex-mex is so bad how do you haters reconcile the divine food at Nino Taco with that notion?

Never heard of Nino Taco, but you made me Google it and I found this review:
Nino Taco is terrible!
Vanessa W.
This food is ridiculous! Seriously, not even close to anything Mexican. Tomato paste, curry on the chicken, it is terrible. It is like the cook has never had Mexican food and doesn't even know what the flavors should be. Don't bother going-for less $ enjoy Taco Bell which is a DELIGHT after eating here.

I can't imagine divine and Tex-Mex in the same sentence unless it's in an ironic statement about a serial killer's last meal. BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzttt.

I hope they do reopen. I had no issue with their location, and their food was really, really good.

Baltimanda, contact Groupon via their website, and they will refund your money.

Well Mr. Gravy, don't believe everything you read on the internet, except what I write on the internet.

Seriously though it is what it is. Nothing authentic about it. Just really tasty combinations of spiced ground beef, refried beans, sour cream, cheese, tomato sauce, and fried tortillas. It's not refined or healthy but it's amazing. I challenge you to go and form your own opinion. Like any greasy/heavy food, if you decided to partake in some alcohol consumption or marijuana inhaling prior to the meal, well that wouldn't hurt.

Maybe some of you haven't had good Tex Mex. Go to Lauriol Plaza. Eat the house made tortillas, chips and salsa, and the amazing fajitas, seafood, etc. then come back. I highlighted that we need a good Tex Mex spot up here. The only reason El Salto thrives is because it has no competition. Fringe offerings like LD don't tempt enough of the population to be sustainable up here. Feel free to flaunt your off-the-beaten-path cuisine, but that most likely wouldn't survive up here either for the same reason.

"I've been from Kosova to Panama City (the country)"

Wait wait wait wait wait, when did Panama City become a country? They should really consider changing the name, cuz that's just confusing.

I knew that was goofy when I wrote it at Bourbon:02 on a Saturday night. Sometimes I mention Panama City and people think it's a place in Florida. Very different scene, the one in the country called Panama.


Yes, Panama City Panama and Panama City FL are two WAY different scenes.

Panama City Beach is way better.

PCB, are they both countries? Or just one?

I called Groupon as well and inquired about whether Red Star (their other restaurant) would honor their groupons. They are going to look into it but also promised a refund if necessary. I did enjoy Diablita's and never had a problem with the neighborhood. I didn't enjoy paying money for salsa and chips which I believe should be free in any restaurant calling itself xxx-mexican. The last time I was there they had started offering free salsa and chips and changed their menu and it looked more reasonable. If they do open again, they need to serve true ceviche!

I think this blog should be called Dining at 'Lick. or Salt 'Lick....

I live in Little Italy and am not afraid to venture out at night. Central Ave is well lit with plenty of parking right out front of the entrance to this restaurant. Location had nothing to do with the downfall of Diablita or the previous restaurant, Tsunami, at this location. It all had to do with mediocre to bad food, prices that were too high, and bad service. Both these restaurants, judging from the size of the bars which took up most of the floor space, were counting on the sale of alcohol to stay above water. You can't make it as a restaurant if your focus is not the food. Lemon Grass, located in the same building but down two doors, was pedaling the same bad food, bad service, and bad prices. If the food is good, the people will come. And in all three of these cases, Diablita, Lemon Grass, and Tsunami, the focus was not the food and the people have chosen to stay away.


just one Sean.

Of course there is just one Sean! The one and only.

I stopped by the restaurant on Sunday to pick up a gift certificate for a friend, and saw that it was closed. So saddened. However - they do have a sign on the door that states that they will be reopening January 7th. Does anyone know why there is all this talk of closing but yet they illude to re-opening?

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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