May 10, By Jason Cohen
A new Mexican restaurant with a Spanish twist opened in Astoria Thursday.
Lunera, located at 32-25 Steinway Street, offers a large menu created by Jose Ignacio Sanchez, the executive chef at the Spanish Embassy.
The restaurant offers items such as tacos—including those of the pork, beef, chicken and veggie variety—to red snapper, crab cakes, homemade guacamole, and quinoa salad with balsamic shrimp.
The restaurant seats 65 people inside and has room for 16 sidewalk seats. At night, there is a DJ.
Lunera is owned and operated by Rossa Quinn, 39, an Astoria resident who has worked in the food service industry for 23 years. This is his first restaurant.
Quinn grew up in Ireland and began working in restaurants at the age of 15.
His passion for Mexican food stems from his time travelling through Honduras, Belize, Mexico and Guatemala in 2006 and 2007, where he was exposed to the local cuisine.
“Just to experience those cultures and the drinks I really fell in love with it,” Quinn said.
Quinn said he moved to Astoria in 2004 and quickly fell in love with the neighborhood. While he has worked primarily in Manhattan restaurants in the past decade, including being a manager at O’Flanagans on the Upper East Side, what really pushed him to open Lunera was his stint overseas.
Quinn took the Steinway Street space in November and gut-renovated the interior. He recently added the finishing touches, such as erecting ancient Mexican masks on the wall to painting red moons along the back wall.
Quinn said he named the restaurant after a common Spanish nursery rhyme.
“Lunera is a nostalgic name for people,” Quinn explained.
Ultimately, he feels the ambiance, service and food will attract people to Lunera and keep them coming back.
“I’m very confident in what I can bring to the table,” Quinn said. “It’s about time to show it.”
The restaurant is open 12 p.m. to 2.a.m., Sunday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 4 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.