“¡Felicitaciones!” This Spanish word translated in English means “congratulations”. With that, we say felicitaciones to Casa del Mar Mexican Bar & Grill on 5 years of serving delicious Mexican cuisine in downtown Valparaiso.

Casa del Mar opened in downtown Valparaiso in January of 2013 on the first floor of the building that was once the Porter County Sheriff’s Office. This re-purposed building, just south of the downtown square, has afforded Casa del Mar the unique opportunity to take advantage of a large space that features both a front and back outdoor patio, plenty of seating for both small and large groups, a large bar area with an extensive option of beverages and ample parking on the back side of the building that is exclusive to the restaurant.

Casa del Mar features many of the traditional dishes you will find at a Mexican restaurant such as tacos, burritos and fajitas. Though what sets Casa del Mar apart from the others is an open, friendly atmosphere where their family treats you like family. Along with the traditional favorites, their menu also features some dishes you may not be able to find elsewhere. One dish, in particular, is the red snapper taco. This unique taco is served with red snapper fish, cabbage, tomato and cheese. “They are very popular, along with our carnitas,” says Casa del Mar bartender and 3-year employee Patty Mireles. Not only will you find delicious food here, but delicious deserts as well. “Our top sellers are our chocolate cake and our fried ice cream. Our fried ice cream is vanilla ice cream topped with corn flakes, cinnamon and sugar that is lightly deep fried. We then top it with strawberry, chocolate and a little bit of whipped cream,” says Mireles. With a large bar area, you will find your traditional favorites such as margaritas and piña coladas. However, you will also find specialty drinks as well. One drink, in particular, is one that Mireles describes as a “skinny margarita”. “Every bartender here has their own drink that they offer to their customer,” says Mireles. If you are looking for live entertainment, Casa del Mar also features live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night beginning at 7:30.

Downtown Valparaiso has undergone great changes over the last few years. From the addition to so many new and unique restaurants to the addition of Central Park Plaza, downtown Valparaiso has become a destination for great food and entertainment. In her time at Casa del Mar, Mireles has definitely taken notice of that fact. “I love it here in Valparaiso, because it is just so cozy. Just to walk by the park area, to see the stores and to enjoy the lights during Christmas time. In the summertime, it’s great to walk around in downtown with your dog.”

Casa del Mar is located at 157 Franklin Street, at the intersection with Monroe Street. You can find a full food, drink and desert menu by going to their website at eatcasadelmar.com. Their website also features a list of upcoming live entertainment. You can follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/casadelmarvalpo/.