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‘Nativo:’ An OG NELA Barrio-Meets-Guadalajara Modern Cantina Is Opening Its Doors on York Boulevard

verwhelmingly blessed and proud” are the first four words that come to mind to Gabriel Paredes as he prepares to post the public notice for ownership change on the window of Sonny’s Hideaway on York Boulevard in Highland Park. 

Come May, it will be the future home of a concept that has been nine years in the making for Paredes and his wife Corrissa Hernandez: Nativo. It will be a Latin-owned modern cantina with an emphasis on agave, rum, and cerveza artesanal (craft beer from Mexico), complete with a modern Mexican food menu pulling inspiration from Paredes’ family roots in the neighborhood and deeper roots in Guadalajara, Jalisco. 

This will be the power couple’s third concept. They owned and operated Craft Beer Cellar in Eagle Rock but closed that last year due to their lease expiring. They also opened and still own Xelas in Boyle Heights, which is approaching its two-year mark. 

Hernandes and Paredes in front of their bar in Boyle Heights, Xelas.

“Growing up in Highland Park in the 80s and 90s, I can understand that a lot of people have felt excluded—I’ve felt this myself,” Paredes says in an interview with L.A. Taco. Like many other OGs who grew up northeast Los Angeles in the 80s, he’s got stories for days about the rampant gang violence and lifestyle in the area. He grew up in the Burwood and Strickland neighborhood and reflects on the feeling of opening up a new restaurant in his hometown, “My dad was a 6’2 Mexican dude who would walk up and down Figueroa selling cowboy boots to all the shops on Figueroa, so yeah it feels crazy.” Paredes acknowledges how high-demand spaces are in this part of town and reflects on his luck nabbing the spot, almost a decade later after he set out to do it. 

Paredes attended Annandale Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Paredes.

“I want to bond the original Highland Park that many of us who grew up here know with old-world classy Guadalajara.” He alludes that this may or may not include a nod to the historic presence of Filipino Americans in the neighborhood as well in its cocktail program. Hernandez affirms that they plan on including some quality tacos, "But not at ridiculous prices. We just want to make it so no one feels excluded.”  

Photo courtesy of Paredes.

Hernandez also confirms that it will not be another Xelas but rather a spinoff to Xelas. The “deeper roots” element also means that they will be doing an “homage to Jalisco’s indigenous roots.” The couple found themselves eating and drinking a lot in Guadalajara’s excellent food scene at restaurants like De La O and Habanero Negro, and hope that L.A. is ripe for more modern Mexican. Nativo is slated to open within the same year as Onda and Socalo offer modern Mexican food in Santa Monica late last year, and as the rest of the city’s taco elite eagerly await Enrique Olvera’s plant-forward taqueria in the Arts District named Damian.  

Paredes and Hernandez are currently in the process of searching for bartenders and a chef who can execute their vision.  

L.A. Taco will post the menu and approximate opening date as we receive that information.

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