Xicha Brewing ‘Sur’, a Bright Spot for South Eugene

Salem’s Xicha Brewing held the grand opening for its satellite location in South Eugene on Dia de los Muertos, 2022. The five-year-old brewery is the only Latine-owned brewery in the state, and brings a youthful, colorful splash of culture to a new development in the Amazon neighborhood.

Xicha could be found in the Mission District of San Francisco, or RiNo in Denver; one might forget they’re in South Eugene while taking in the menu, which is mostly in Spanish. Upbeat music, bright color patterns, and a large “nuevo-Mayan” mural tilt the space away from the urban concrete-and-succulents aesthetic. Xicha Brewing owners, seasoned restauranteurs Ricardo and Margarita AntĂșnez, still operate Pura Vida Cocina, a very popular Latin American restaurant in McMinnville.

The cerveza menu is also tilted south in its own way. Mexican, Vienna, and dark lagers, along with a pair of guava-infused beers provide a decent roundness to the palette; there is, of course, an IPA and even a sour fruit beer. Chela, the Mexican-style lager, comes with a lime wedge that makes all the difference. The Gran Guayaba is aged in Tequila barrels, is 8.3%, and has a strong floral-woody component and crushable blonde ale body. There are also several margarita options (available in a flight, too!). Xicha Morada is a traditional Peruvian soft drink made from purple corn, and is offered as a non-alcoholic option (though it was sold out when I went).

For those wondering what Vienna lager has to do with Mexico, there’s a rich and mythical history (like many beer styles) that the royal “we” now accept as some form of the truth, unwilling to unravel and re-ravel the glamorous tales of immigrant brewers into the banal functions of business, marketing, and technology.

Empanadas, tacos, and a flight at Xicha Brewing Sur. Photo by Aaron Brussat

Here’s a little pet peeve, and I can’t be alone here: many people are confused about what places are and aren’t a brewery. For example, The Wheel Apizza Pub and Brewery and Falling Sky Brewing often surprise patrons by pointing out the shiny tanks visible from the seating area (yes, we make all our own beer). Conversely, when I worked at The Bier Stein Bottleshop & Pub, I had to explain numerous times that we merely support those who make the beer.

Where does Xicha Sur (south), a distant satellite outlet, fall in this spectrum? It’s likely that many folks who stop by won’t know the beer’s origin, and the chalkboard-tile beer list is set off to the side, rather than astride the comida, which is set above the ordering counter. Yes, they brew the beer; just not here.

Though not adherent to a specific Central American tradition, the food menu riffs on classics, and boasts excellent house-made tortillas and empanada shells. The flavors are well-defined and distinctive, not too salty or spicy, and balanced with acidic components. Meat and vegetarian options abound, and a kid’s menu is forthcoming. Service was prompt, friendly, and my server went out of their way to answer questions.

The restaurant, located on the bottom floor of a new apartment building at Amazon Corner, shares a spacious, hip patio with Provisions South, which focuses more on wine, cocktails, and bistro fare. The two complement each other well, and bookend the nexus of locally-owned gathering spots and watering holes that stretches down East Amazon to Mazzi’s.

Xicha Brewing Sur
747 East 32nd Avenue
Eugene, Oregon 97405

*For the curious, like myself: “Latine” [lah-TEEN-ay] is a gender-neutral alternative to Latino/a, similar to Latinx but with more natural pronunciation.

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