Sunday, June 29, 2014


Address: 768 Yates Street
Phone: 778-433-4848
Price: ~$10 for a main
Notes: A casual watering hole with plenty of personality


Although I know Cenote has been around for several years it didn't really make it onto my radar properly until pretty recently. I think this was because when they took over from Whitebird Lounge and kept the "lounge" aspect I kept the association with the events I had heard being offered there — which were mostly after-parties that occur after I am tucked up in bed snoring. However my partner-in-food-and-life overheard someone talking about their stuffed hot dogs and ever since then we've been meaning to visit.

Cenote seems to roughly translate to 'place where you find water underground' which seems like a very appropriate description. The lounge space is tucked away next to the Yates st Odeon theatre, down a staircase. They half share the space with a vintage clothing store, and the entrance way opens up in the sunshine to let fresh air and sunshine through. In many ways it reminds me of a slightly less food-centric, slightly less hipster-centric version of the sadly defunct (but apparently possibly soon reborn... Fort St. cafe). The front entranceway has comfy couches set up kind of like a small livingroom. To the left there is a large bar area and then a series of booths. The walls are adorned with the kind of art that fascinates me (but I would never want to hang in my living room). It looks like they also still have quite a few events & entertainment options on certain nights as well.

The menu is definitely mostly designed to be food that accompanies drinks. The majority of the mnu are sharing plates & their stuffed dogs — a hollowed out Portofino bun stuffed with a variety of toppings and a Glenwood Meats wiener. A few sandwiches and mains are supported by a daily fresh sheet as well for those who want more than just a nibble with their cocktail or pitcher. Although prices have risen since they last updated the menu on their website it's not by too much, making it one of the more affordable options for good food & drink in Victoria!

July 26th 2014
Sandwich Board Daily Specials app
the Thursday Cenote feature
as discovered on the Sandwich Board Daily Specials app

Our visit was prompted by a new sponsor for the Victorian Food blog! I've teamed up with the fine ladies from the new Sandwich Board daily specials app (now available for iOs or Android!) who will be sponsoring some of the meals posted here in the next little while! They're solving the problem that I frequently had before starting to blog — I'm hungry, it's 6pm & I only have $20 to spend on dinner... where can we go that's nearby? Tonight's answer was Cenote! 

G&T and Whiskey Sour
G&T Special & a Whiskey Sour
I got sucked into the special and went for a G&T and my partner-in-food-and-life chose a Whiskey Sour. Both excellent choices to start our evening off. 

Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan Special
I've been on an Eggplant Parmesan kick lately... all the cheesy, breaded vegetable goodness you can handle with a spicy tomato tang and a side of garlic toast. This did not disappoint! It was satisfying, flavourful and well executed. It was also just the right size for the price ($12!). The salad on the side had really excellent local greens as well, which made me happy!  

The Cenote Dog
The Cenote Dog
Yes, that's a stuffed hot dog alright! Definitely a new paradigm of hedonistic comfort food. I could see this hitting the spot left behind after a few beers perfectly! This was the single dog, but for $2 more you could also include a second wiener in  your stuffing. If you dare to be so bold. 

My lactose-intolerant partner-in-food-and-crime had to scrape a little bit of cheese out (not realizing dairy was the key ingredient of the spicy Cenote sauce) but I benefitted nicely from this as usual, so I wasn't complaining. We will definitely try a few of the other varieties in the future. 

Chips & Salsa
Chips & Salsa
We decided to stick around for a second round and enjoy the perfect view of the adorable courtyard in front of us with the sunshine streaming down, so we nibbled on some chips & salsa. Again, great value for $5, and a good nibble to fill the gaps between sips and conversation. 

Ward Eight
Tea Mocktail & the Ward Eight
For the second round I asked for a non-alcoholic option, and was delighted when I was offered a custom creation vs just a soda or juice! This had earl grey syrup, I think something berry that I couldn't identify and fresh mint and lemon juice. My partner-in-food-and-life opted for the Ward Eight, a bourbon-based cocktail that ended up looking pretty fancy with the grenadine. 

July 26th 2014
It was pretty early on a Thursday night when we stopped by, so we were one of only a handful of diners. The servers were attentive, making sure we had enough of everything and checking in often. The food was definitely not quick on the draw — but I think the staff team is pretty small and we weren't in a rush. Plus, I know they were prepping things fresh rather than relying on mass production which definitely showed in the food.

available NOW for iOs or Android!

Cenote Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon


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