A Mexican restaurant moves into the former Holy Diver space

Holy Diver, at 1517 21st Street in downtown Sacramento, seen Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, as it prepares to close permanently.

Holy Diver, at 1517 21st Street in downtown Sacramento, seen Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, as it prepares to close permanently.

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A much-loved space in downtown Sacramento will trade amps for aguachile and guitars for gorditas, transforming from a live music venue to a sit-down Mexican restaurant and full bar.

El Cabron Kitchen & Cantina will replace holy diver at 1517 21st St., according to documents filed with the California Department of Liquor Control and the Secretary of State.

It will be partly owned by Jose Antonio Castillo, who also owns restaurants in San Jose Mas Pizza, 3rd and Bourbon and Social Lady (currently closed due to fire). Castillo did not immediately respond to The Sacramento Bee’s request for comment.

El Cabron will be less than two blocks down 21st Street from Jalapeños, an over-the-counter taqueria known for its Taco Tuesday offerings and Mexican-influenced hot dogs. But El Cabron will be a more upscale expression of the country’s cuisine with tomahawk steaks, Mexican barbecue and grilled oysters, according to the Sacramento Business Journal.

holy diver was a 5,800 square foot concert hall for all ages that hosted musicians from Sacramento and around the country. It was preceded by the Starlite Lounge from 2013 to 2017.

While it was popular for its rock scene, with bands like Grayscale and Arden Park Roots, artists from all genres crossed the Holy Diver scene, including María Isabel, The Buttertones and City Morgue.

Holy Diver was founded and owned by partners Bret Bair and Eric Rushing, also known for their adventures in Ace of Spades on R Street before it was sold and Goldfield Trading Post, in 2017. The spot hosted its last show and closed permanently end of December 2021.

The owners did not explain the reason for the closure in their social media announcements. They dispelled speculation that the venue was closing due to non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to comments on Holy Diver’s Facebook page.

Bair and Rushing are in the process of buying Old Ironsides, Sacramento’s oldest operating bar.

El Cabron is expected to open this fall barring significant construction delays, the Business Journal reported.

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as breaking general news and investigative projects. A native of Sacramento, he previously covered affairs for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.

Profile picture of Hanh Truong

Hanh Truong is a service desk reporter for The Sacramento Bee. She was previously a freelance journalist, covering education and culture for PBS SoCal and music for buzzbands.la.

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