Cortez, the coastal Mexican restaurant from Charlie and Hector Ibarra and executive chef Oscar Diaz, will launch an upstairs cocktail bar on Glenwood Ave. this summer.
Cuya gets its name from mayacuyá, the Spanish word for passion fruit.
“It’s essentially a sister cocktail bar for Cortez,” Charlie Ibarra said.
The coming and going of seasonality would sometimes bid farewell to popular cocktails before Cortez diners were ready to see them go. Ibarra said Cuya might offer a landing spot for drinks like the tamarind margarita and others.
“Guests come back looking for that favorite cocktail, and the seasonal focus of Cortez means we’re always rotating drinks in and out,” Ibarra said. “Cuya will give Cortez favorites a change to live a little longer.”
Cortez opened in 2017 and in the past five years has been one of the city’s top restaurants, with chef Oscar Diaz a two-time James Beard Best Chef: Southeast semifinalist. The menu features fire-kissed oysters from up and down the North Carolina coast, red snapper ceviche, charred octopus, grilled whole fish and a famous take on bread and butter, with slices of baguette served with seaweed butter.
The bar side of Cortez has always married the coast to Raleigh’s Glenwood district, serving bright and refreshing drinks that might pair with the sand between your toes. Ibarra said there won’t be a food menu, but Cuya will continue the beachside vibes and kick it up a notch.
“We’re keeping that tropical focus,” Ibarra said. “We’re always thinking tiki drinks need more places to live. We love mezcal and tequila. Those will be our primary spirits, and rum will be a big part of the menu.”
Cuya opens in a former office space that became available during the pandemic. Ibarra said Cuya will will always feature a fresh playlist and DJs.
“Obviously it’s the nightlife district,” Ibarra said. “Nighttime will see a little more thumping and people moving their bodies.”
Cuya looks to open in late September, Ibarra said and will eventually add a balcony space to the building.
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