Restaurant News & Reviews

This downtown Raleigh empanada spot is closing, but there’s still time for one last margarita

Calavera Empanada & Tequila Bar announced Monday it will close Feb. 24 at the corner of Davie and Blount streets.
Calavera Empanada & Tequila Bar announced Monday it will close Feb. 24 at the corner of Davie and Blount streets. Calavera Empanada & Tequila Bar

One of the only places to get empanadas in downtown Raleigh will close this month.

Calavera Empanada & Tequila Bar announced Monday it would close Feb. 24 at the corner of Davie and Blount streets. The two remaining weeks will be dinner service only Tuesday through Sunday, but it will be able to squeeze in one last National Margarita Day – Feb. 22 – as a swan song.

Calavera owner Ken Yowell seemed to have cornered the Davie Street Market. Calavera opened in 2011 and was joined in 2014 by Oak City Meatball next door, which focused on meatball-focused dishes and sandwiches. In April, he expects to open Kaiju, which will focus on bao and noodles.

But the Calavera space was too small for what Yowell wanted to do with the concept, he said in a statement on his website. When he was approached with an unexpected offer, he took it.

“We’ve entertained the idea of looking for a location more suited to what we wanted to do for awhile, but have never found anything that matched our needs and wants,” Yowell wrote. “We were out of the blue approached with an offer to sell, and while we weren’t actively exploreing that, with our new restaurants on the horizon we felt this was the best time to step away.”

Oak City will remain open. Employees of Calavera may join Oak City or Kaiju or receive letters of recommendation to head elsewhere, Yowell said.

Calavera was recently featured in a roundup by News & Observer restaurant critic Greg Cox as one of the best places to get empanadas in the Triangle and boasted one of the city’s largest selections of tequila.

It’s unclear what might occupy the Calavera space.

Later this year, you can find your empanada fix at downtown Raleigh food halls. Makus Empanadas in Durham is set to open a stall at Morgan Street Food Hall. Meanwhile, Transfer Co. food hall will be a home for Che Empanadas.

Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson

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