Tania Corona had been thinking about opening a restaurant for a long time. In November 2019 driving down 13th Street, she saw the location of a former bar for lease and decided to take it. By the time she and her family opened in April 2020, the pandemic had struck.
Every restaurant has been having difficulties since the pandemic and being a new eatery in town hasn’t helped. Before opening Corona did some updating to the dining room but never officially opened it because of COVID-19, but the family set up outdoor tables when outdoor dining was allowed.
Corona and her parents Elena and Enrique Corona opened the restaurant together as a joint effort. They decided on the name Lumbre which in Spanish means fire - not because the dishes are spicy, but because the flavors explode in your mouth. “It’s not a typical name, but I thought it would be a name that stands out,” she said.
Corona grew up in Imperial Beach and when she was a teenager she worked at her aunt’s taco shop also on 13th Street called Corona. “I walked from school to the shop and helped her out cleaning tables,” she recalled.
As she got older, Corona knew she wanted to do something with food. Corona’s father Enrique who is originally from Ensenada, Mexico, has always loved to cook, especially with seafood. “His whole family grew up on the coast and most of their food came from the sea. He knows how to make it tasty,” she explained.
Corona’s father is the chef at the restaurant and he prides himself of his specialties especially Caldo de Salmon, a delicious salmon soup that many come from far away to try. Corona said that a number of people from Arizona and Las Vegas who happened to visit went to Lumbre asking for the salmon soup.
“Right now the soup is what’s keeping the restaurant afloat” said Corona. “It’s my dad’s recipes and really unique.”
Corona, who has two young children, helps out at the restaurant but also has a different job that pays the bills.
Lumbre is currently offering a limited take out menu that will be expanded once the pandemic is over. Corona said there are five top seller dishes that are popular with diners. The number one is the Salmon Soup followed by the Shrimp and Octopus cocktail. “It’a unique way to prepare it, with a family secret recipe,” she said.
Ceviche is another popular dish. There are a few different types of ceviche on the menu all made with very fresh fish. Corona explained that the ceviche is made to order and not frozen overnight.
A popular non-seafood dish is the deep fried and seasoned Cornish Hen, again made using a family recipe. It’s served with rice and beans, macaroni salad, tortillas and a special salsa. Lastly the Beer Battered Tacos are also a tasty choice loved by many. Carne Asada Tacos are another non-seafood a very good choice.
“It’s my dad’s passion [to cook] and he passed it over to us. We have been preparing for the past 7 to 10 years to open a restaurant,” said Corona.
Lumbre, 1133 13th Street. call 619-934-2389. Discounts available for first responders and military personnel. Delivery through Doordash and Uber Eats will be available soon. For weekly specials follow Lumbre on social media: instagram @LumbreMexicanSeafood and facebook.com/LumbreMexicanMariscos.