Mother-daughter-owned Latin-American cafe Cafe Nenaí has opened a second location in East Austin, and will soon expand the menu to include dinner items. The new cafe is at 1614 East Sixth Street as of Saturday, October 26.
The East Sixth location of Cafe Nenaí will serve the same menu as the original for now — coffee and espresso drinks, sweet and savory pastries, and sandwiches — but it will be adding lunch and dinner to-go in the coming months. Look for dishes from co-owner Elena Sanguinetti’s home of Paraguay, like vori vori (chicken soup with cheese balls), rice dishes, sopa Paraguaya, and guiso.
Sanguinetti and her daughter Gladys Benitez opened the original Cafe Nenaí on Montopolis Drive in February 2017 to rave reviews from Austin Monthly and the Statesman. The original location will remain open, but Benitez and Sanguinetti wanted to capitalize on the foot traffic of East Sixth with the second location, which is part of an apartment building.
Building out a new restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a challenge, as the pair needed to turn the empty space into a restaurant and many city offices were closed or open limited hours. Benitez and Sanguinetti also struggled to translate the experience of Cafe Nenaí to to-go food, as the dining room of the original location is still closed (although Benitez hopes to open it soon).
“It’s hard when you’re just giving them an item, but you’re not able to give them the experience of being at the cafe,” Benitez tells Eater. “Like, we didn’t have the Latin music that you usually walk in and hear. It was stressful not being able to serve our customers anymore and then dealing with their frustration with not being able to have life as it was.”
The East Sixth location of Cafe Nenaí is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with dine-in available.
- All Coverage of Cafe Nenaí [EATX]