Sometimes we all just need a little coffee — simple. When you’re not in a familiar neighborhood, it’s the perfect time to explore.
Thursday of last week, we were in Windsor Terrace and I needed coffee. We started exploring and found Cena, a cute little Mexican Restaurant. There stood on Greenwood Avenue at the corner of Prospect Avenue, close to the F & G train line. At first, I thought ohhhhhh coffee, but once inside, I realized it was a restaurant with a coffee shop. What a fabulous idea.
Juan Gomez and his two partners; Erin Watman and Oliver Rivera are the owners of Cena. Gomez was born and raised in Mexico and started his restaurant career working for Erin Watman. Who owns The Brooklyneer and The Folly both located in the West Village. When Gomez was making the transition from employee to restaurant owner, Watman saw the potential and decided to partner with Gomez and Rivera.
Cena opened in July of 2019 but the journey to where they are today wasn’t an easy one. After a week of opening there was a gas leak in the building where they’re located and National Grid turned the gas off for three months.
Gomez knew the importance of consistency, he kept all of his employees, purchased a few electric stove tops and kept things moving in the right direction. They would prepare all the food they had for the day and closed their doors when everything was sold out. Determination and tenacity kept them afloat until things were back on track.
The light and airy interior is spacious yet intimate. The potted and hanging plants paired with the steady stream of sunlight is a beautiful combination. Diners have the choice of a booth or regular table seating: There is a bar area and the coffee shop corner.
Gonez understands the needs of his community. He knew the hustle and bustle of the morning commuters would want a space where they could grab their coffee and go. And he was inspired to not only put a coffee shop in the restaurant but he also added Austin Style Breakfast Tacos which are served from 8 AM to 11:30 AM.
Cena is open from 7 AM, you can grab coffee, fresh pastries or fresh OJ. From 8 AM when the kitchen opens the full menu is available. You can order coffee, tea, hot chocolate, fresh pastries, breakfast tacos, smoothies or Parfait.
We had the oat lattes, parfaits and vegan tacos (the tacos were pretty darn good). You have choice of regular, vegan and vegetarian to choose from.
There’s a full lunch and dinner menu that’s available from noon to 10 PM. On Saturdays and Sundays you can grab your coffee and pastries from 9 AM and Brunch starts from 10 AM to 3 PM.
We haven’t tried Brunch but we were in the neighborhood for almost the entire day and decided to have lunch and dinner. For Lunch we had fresh Guacamole and tacos and for dinner we dined on Esquites and vegetable Fajitas. All the ingredients were fresh.
The bar is a nice addition and Happy Hour is offered at a two for one special. Monday through Friday from noon to 6PM $7 house wine, house draft, house cocktail and bottled beers are offered.
There’s a small but nice offering of wine and a creative curated cocktail menu. Cena currently has a wine and beer license but that did not stop them from creating delicious cocktails for their patrons. The cocktails are created with Fermented Spirits distributed by San Gabriel.
The meaning of Cena
I took some time to speak with Juan Gomez and I asked what was the inspiration for the name, Cena and it’s meaning. The name Cena (Say-N) familiar which means family supper. The name was inspired by Gomez’s grandmother.
Being a from a large family there was never enough seating for everyone — his grandmother had to be creative. His grandmother would make a huge pot. Always a few different protein & veggie fillings along with handmade tortillas, house-roasted salsas, plus all the traditional accompaniments and sides. She would call out ”La cena está lista” (dinner is ready).
Everyone was able to make tacos exactly the way they wanted it and everyone was happy. Gomez wanted to bring to the communal dining from his culture to Windsor Terrace and he even offers Family-style tacos on Cena’s menu for everyone to experience.
We enjoyed everything we had at Cena and will be going back to visit soon — we’re excited about Brunch.
I would love to hear about your visit — email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
601 Greenwood Avenue Corner Prospect Avenue