Cortez Seafood + Cocktail
“The Cortez isn’t an ordinary seafood restaurant. It surprises and delights at every turn.” Greg Cox, News & Observer
Cortez is a fresh seafood and small plates experience with a freshly kept selection of tropical cocktails that draw on our food memories, travels through the years, and Mexican-American heritage. Executive Chef Oscar Diaz’s menu is a reflection of his weekly walks through the farmer’s market and the bounties brought in by our local fishermen. The beverage menu is rounded out with rotating craft beers and a curated wine list.
Oscar Diaz was raised in Chicago and initially tried to cook straightforward Mexican food in the South. The 36-year-old classically trained chef re-examined his approach after too many customers said he wasn’t doing their queso dip right, a dish Diaz had never heard of until he moved to Raleigh.
“So instead of me being all bitter about people saying, ‘You can’t do this and that,’ I decided that I was going to put my fingerprint on something,” Diaz says. “So I started to mix grits with masa [the corn dough that serves as the base for tortillas and tamales]. It got us thinking.”
Ibarra and Diaz found so much success with Jose and Sons that they were able to open the Cortez, an ambitious, seafood-focused restaurant, late last year. They now see themselves as ambassadors for their prismatic view of the South. “I’m repping not just the restaurant; I’m repping Raleigh,” Diaz says. “I’m repping Latino culture and American culture. I’m repping the South.”