Updated Apr 9, 2024 - Food and Drink

First look: New tapas restaurant opening soon in former Eight+Sand spot

interior

Catalú's interior can seat 80 guests inside and an additional 60 on the outdoor patio. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

Catalú, a new Spanish tapas restaurant, will soft open April 11 in the former Eight+Sand space in South End. The restaurant's grand opening will be April 23.

Why it matters: Catalú is the first Spanish restaurant for local restaurateur Manny Flores, who owns Charlotte Mexican eateries, Que Onda and Que Fresa under the Qué Hospitality restaurant group.

  • Flores, who worked with renowned Spanish chef and humanitarian José Andrés for over 10 years, tells Axios that Spain has always had "a special place" in his heart. "It was natural for me to go back to a Spanish concept."

Flashback: All-day cafe Eight+Sand, a joint business from Inizio Pizza owner Grant Arons and Not Just Coffee co-owners James and Miracle Yoder, closed in January after five years in its prime location right off the light rail.

What to expect: Catalú will serve contemporary takes on cuisine from the Catalonia region of Spain, which includes the bustling city Barcelona.

  • Flores and his team traveled to the region multiple times for research and to develop the menu. The kitchen is led by executive chef Juan Romero.
caption
Dishes from left to right: Canelones (stuffed crepes), beet salad, the fideuà (Barcelona-style paella), crema Catalana (dessert flan), "The Barcelona" large paella and rabo de toro (oxtail). Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

Dig in: The food menu is divided into four main sections: cold tapas, hot tapas, paellas and charcuterie.

  • Cold tapas include pan con tomate (grilled bread with tomato) that will use bread from Manolo’s Bakery and a beet salad with pistachio butter made in-house ($9.50).
  • Hot tapas include a Barcelona-style paella called fideuà — instead of rice, it's served with angel hair pasta ($15.50) — and rabo de toro — also known as oxtail ($15.50)— and canelones, which are crepes stuffed with chicken and spinach and topped with a béchamel sauce.
paella
There are also three paellas to choose from, like "The Barcelona," a classic Barcelona paella made with bomba rice, Spanish chorizo and grilled steak.
desert
Catalú will have an entire desert tapas menu, like the crema Catalana, with a cloud-like texture that lands somewhere between mousse and flan. Photo: McKenzie Rankin.

Sip on this: The wine list will comprise Spanish wines, while the cocktail list will focus on sangrias and gin and tonics.

beet salad
The beet salad alongside "La Rosalia," a sweet and floral GinTonic the team named after the Spanish singer-songwriter. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

The vibe: Catalú has kept much of Eight + Sand's existing structure, like the open kitchen and bookshelves, while adding a lounge area and new fixtures and decor for a Mediterranean feel.

lounge
The walk-up counter has been replaced with a lounge area for guests to sip sangria while waiting to be seated. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

Fun fact: What was previously the flour storage room at Eight + Sand will now be a wine room for Catalú.

What’s next: Catalú will open for dinner service only on April 23. A brunch menu will roll out next followed by lunch by mid-summer.

Stop by: Catalú is at 135 New Bern St. (right off the New Bern light rail stop).

  • To start, it'll be open Sunday-Thursday 4-10pm and Friday-Saturday 4-11pm.
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