A new Mexican cantina recently debuted in University City. Diego’s, from the owners of Frida’s, opened on Oct. 13, featuring elevated street food with an emphasis on small plates and craft cocktails.

The concept comes from Frida’s owners Natasha Kwan and Rick Roloff. As previously reported by Feast, the restaurant fills the space that was formerly home to Momos Greek Restaurant next door to Frida’s, which originally opened in July 2012.

“We both have a passion for Mexican cuisine,” Kwan says. “My husband, Rick, grew up just north of Mexico in a border town around traditional Mexican food, not Tex-Mex. I lived in Chicago for 10 years prior to moving back to St. Louis and there’s a taqueria on every corner.”

Diego’s is named after artist Diego Rivera as a counterpart to its neighboring concept’s namesake, Frida Kahlo. Kwan and Roloff – a third-generation home builder – aimed to create an oasis throughout the space, filling it with colorful tiles, marble, hanging basket lamps and lots of greenery. In warmer seasons, windows open up onto the patio for open-air dining.

Unlike Frida’s, which is a strictly vegetarian eatery, Diego’s serves seafood and poultry. One of its most popular items, for instance, is a grilled fish taco with barramundi, onion, cilantro, tomato, lime and smoked crema. Kwan also highly recommends Diego’s carnitas with seasoned chicken, onion, cilantro, cotija and lime. All tacos are served on corn tortillas.

“You’re going to find the freshness and detail to good ingredients in both of our restaurants. One thing that’s very clear with both concepts is that we’re providing the top quality food available,” Kwan says.

An example of Kwan’s testament to clean food is her sheet pan nachos loaded with cheese, salsa, crema, tomato, cilantro, radish and optional add-ons including shrimp and chicken. The chips are fried in a non-GMO rice bran oil for a light and non-greasy product.

Additional highlights from the menu include costra tacos, which Kwan describes as a grilled cheese taco in which Chihuahua and Monterey Jack act as a shell. The street food-style taco is available with chicken or with roasted chiles, tomato, onion, cilantro, avocado and salsa roja.

From the bar, choose from a list of beer, wine, Margaritas and house cocktails such as the Nueva Escuela with Old Forrester 86, clove, cascara and coconut sugar. A tequila and mezcal flight is also available. 

“I’m really excited to have a neighborhood bar and restaurant where Momos was,” Kwan says. “I’ve been here a long time, and I think specifically for people in my community, we finally have a place to go to and belly up to the bar, have a drink, some food and a really good time.”

Diego's is currently open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 9pm as well as Friday through Saturday from 12 to 10pm. Online ordering for pickup as well as reservations for indoor dining are available via Diego’s website.

Diego’s, 630 North and South Road, University City, Missouri, 314.553.9906, diegosstl.com