According to Google maps, Catalina's Restaurant is only 1.1 miles from my house. I run by it all the time, but after living in my current house for just about a year, I only today tried it for the first time.
I've never been sure about going in because, from the outside, the establishment doesn't look like much. In fact, when my mother and I drove up today we didn't even know if it was open! However, the bright red "open" sign alerted us to the status, and we walked in, not knowing what to expect.
The restaurant is very large -- deceptively large, in fact -- and really bright. We went at around 5 p.m., and there were only two other sets of diners. Otherwise, we had our pick of basically any table or booth in the restaurant. We were served crunchy and warm tortilla chips and spicy salsa right away. We also ordered hot waters and [very fresh and flavorful] guacamole and both came immediately.
It took us a while to decide what to order; I had a hard time because there is an actual "vegetarian" section on the menu, and I really wanted to make the perfect choice. Finally, after asking a few questions, I decided upon the black bean tamales which, if ordered without cheese on top, are completely vegan.
They. Were. Amazing.
I haven't eaten vegan tamales in quite a while, and they are one of my favorite dishes. I've never quite mastered the technique to making them and thus can only eat them whenever I a) see a person dragging around a cooler and calling out "fresh tamales!" or b) go to a Mexican food cart. I don't do either very often, so my taste buds were very pleased with today's selection.
The meal came with a delicious little salad, the freshest "refried" beans I've ever tasted, and the most uniquely-seasoned Spanish rice I've ever had. The rice even had peas in it, which I found endearing (I had a hard time not gushing throughout the entire meal, as I continually praised both my meal and the actual space).
I ate everything on my plate, and somehow still had room for a vegan chocolate truffle from Back to Eden for dessert (don't ask me how!).
I will definitely return, as the prices are right, the food is delicious, and the location is perfect.