D’ La Santa taking a family approach to great Mexican food on 10th Ave E

With reporting and photos by Alex Garland

Maybe a higher power will help. Mom’s recipes and a family approach to business will, for sure.

Angelica Villasenor and her family have opened D’ La Santa on 10th Ave E down toward Roanoke in a Capitol Hill restaurant space that has been empty for years and that has challenged many a restaurateur. The recipe to making things work on this part of the Hill? From Guadalajara, Jalisco, Villasenor has turned to the dishes from her mother’s kitchen.

“All my mom’s recipes,” Villasenor said. “My mom is not a chef, when she cooks, she never follows recipes, just by taste. In the beginning, she was helping me with the seasoning.”

There are also eight or so family members working at the restaurant.

D’ La Santa opened at 10th and Miller last week. So far, lunch has been a little slow but dinner is beginning to draw crowds. Villasenor says you can make a reservation, if you need.

The menu is meaty and the preparations emphasize a handmade approach with house-roasted tomatoes for the salsas, and no-mix margaritas. Try the Chile En Nogada, a dish that reportedly dates to 1821 and the requirements of a picky Mexican president.

The family restaurant’s arrival on Capitol Hill wasn’t part of a grand business plan to serve the highly coveted demographics of the nearby neighbors. Villasenor said they picked the opportunity from available real estate listings. Her family jump into the restaurant business isn’t completely out of the blue — her father operated a Mexican restaurant and club in Kent

The buildout of the Saint was a slow endeavor with the banners going up months ago and neighbors wondering when something new would finally open to put the space back into motion. Abay Ethiopian was the last to give the challenging location a spin before it shuttered in 2015.

Villasenor is busy making the corner D’ La Santa’s home. It is now filled with Mexican art — “When I realized I was in this area, I knew I was going to do something different,” she says — and the owners are planning to finish the overhaul of the restaurant’s bar space. They hope to eventually add a patio and outdoor seating.

For now, the work continues after months of effort. They’re happy the neighborhood is now enjoying meals at D’ La Santa after watching the project come together over the summer, piece by piece, family style.

“We’ve been working hard for a year,” Villasenor said, “buying a bit every week.”

D’ La Santa is located at 2359 10th Ave E. It is open daily 11 AM to 9 PM. You can learn more on the D’ La Santa Facebook page.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

2 thoughts on “D’ La Santa taking a family approach to great Mexican food on 10th Ave E

  1. I’m glad this place finally opened, and am excited to try it. Hopefully, they will be successful and end the “curse” of that location as far as restaurant longevity!

  2. Also looking forward to trying D’ La Santa out. I can’t even remember all the short-lived restaurants in that haunted space. There’s not a lot in the immediate neighborhood, so I hope D’ La Santa feeds everybody well and they come back and tell their friends.

Leave a Reply