Shift Change

The Saint's New Chef Is Sitka and Spruce Taco Master Álvaro Candela

Which means you can soon eat his tacos seven days a week.

By Allecia Vermillion March 31, 2014

Coming soon: freaking fabulous tacos. Photo via the Saint's Facebook page.

Well, this just made my day. Olive Way tequileria The Saint has a new chef, and it's none other than Mexico City native Álvaro Candela. He's best known in Seattle as the guy behind the Monday night tacos at Sitka and Spruce, one of the city's first bona fide pop ups.

Candela starts his new executive chef role April 2, and will continue to serve up his signature food of the malafacha, which he describes as a cultural movement rooted in Los Angeles and Mexico City in the 1940s.

Owner Quentin Ertel says he knew Candela only in passing, but was a big fan of his Monday night tacos served barely three blocks from his own establishment. So when it  came time to find a new chef, Ertel found himself working with a mental list that contained a single entry. He got Candela's number from a friend, picked up the phone, and two hours later the men were having coffee. His description of the resulting hourslong discussions of food and tequila and cocktails have all the makings of a good bromance.

Candela says the new menu at the Saint should look familiar to anyone who enjoyed his tacos at Sitka. Examples include tacos de trucha, filled with garlic-fried trout and Mayan cabbage, or tacos de alambres, stuffed with grilled beef and green peppers and onions. The meat for the tacos al pastor will be cooked the traditional way, on a vertical spit, and carved to order. Bar snacks involve plenty of fried tortilla goodness, whether it's panuchos heaped with black beans and cochinita pibil, or chalupas poblanas, where the tortillas are stuffed with chicken and both green and red salsas.

Candela's new menu arrives at the Saint April 9, just in time for its sixth birthday bash. Ertel is also paring back the cocktail list, which contains six years worth of favorite tequila drinks and has seen very little pruning during that time. "We're using this as an opportunity to strip down everything and build it back with a more streamlined approach," he says.

Candela will do two more taco nights at Sitka and Spruce (tonight, and next Monday, April 7) before moving over to his new role. 


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