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A Mexican Cantina Serves Up Serious Cocktails in the Heart of Chula Vista

La Nacional is the new sibling of National City’s Machete Beer House

Various Mexican dishes.
A selection from the menu.

The founders of the South Bay’s first craft beer bar have launched their long-awaited second project, a modern take on a Mexican cantina, in downtown Chula Vista. Eddie Trejo and Joann Cornejo, who opened National City’s acclaimed Machete Beer House in 2015, are behind La Nacional, a restaurant and bar that recently landed on a bustling stretch of Third Avenue.

Centered around cocktails curated by bartender Felipe “Pipo” Lopez, whose list includes a daiquiri spiked with Mexican rum and banana liqueur, a mezcal Negroni, and an agave-sweetened old fashioned variation with Mexican whisky, the bar is family-friendly until 8 p.m. A weekday happy hour, which runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., features specials on drinks including select tequilas and mezcals.

Assorted drinks.
The bar.

In the kitchen is chef Alvaro Hernandez of local pop-up Birrieria Don Alvaro, whose birria is showcased at La Nacional’s brunch, served Thursday through Sunday. The fall-apart meat features in a quesataco or birra bowl with consomme, and can be optionally topped with braised tendon.

The chef’s popular Sonora-style ribeye taco is one of the highlights on the main dinner menu, which also includes housemade chicharron and guacamole, chicken flautas, and sopita, a comforting tomato-based noodle soup, as well as late-night snacks like Tijuana hot dogs.

Three cocktails.
Assorted drinks.

Cornejo tells Eater that she and Trejo would like to open other businesses down the line, including a stand-alone spot for Machete Coffee, a cafecito at Machete Beer House that the couple launched during the pandemic and shuttered earlier this year.

La Nacional Menu

La Nacional

279 Third Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910, Chula Vista, CA 91910 858-405-2646