With dozens of drool-worthy restaurants and eateries, Little Italy has become one of San Diego’s premiere neighborhoods for notable cuisine. Rest assured, if you’re not serving award-worthy and imaginative artisan dishes, your chances of surviving in Little Italy are bleak at best. So what did Baja-based superstar chef Javier Plascencia do? He opened his second ‘Mexiterranean-style’ U.S. eatery in the heart of San Diego’s hottest dining ‘hood. Bracero Cocina de Raiz opened its doors in July of 2015. Five months later, the bi-level eatery landed on Thrillist’s 2015 Best New Restaurants in America list. Here are five thrilling reasons why:
1. Casa Plascencia’s Beef Cheek Taco – the beef is the star here! Tender, juicy, marinated and slow-roasted to savory perfection. Served with simple accoutrements of white onion and fresh cilantro. Nothing else is needed here, folks. Try and eat just one. You cannot – it’s impossible. I guarantee you’ll order another.
2. Lamb Neck Barbacoa Taco – Outrageously luscious lamb so tender it melts in your mouth! Topped with a piquant pasilla salsa, fresh cilantro, and tangy onion. OMG!
3. Callo de Hacha – Crudo-style Baja scallops paired with fresh onion, cucumber and lime wedges and sprinkled with a dash of sea urchin chiltepîn salt. An outright foodgasm! I have NEVER tasted scallops as ambrosial as these. Period.
4. Bistek ala Tampiquena Plate. A mouth-watering filet grilled medium-rare – with a coronado of poblanos and green onion. Complete with a side order of savory poblano rice, beans and fresh guacamole – delicioso!!
5. Service with a smile 🙂 Everyone at Bracero is über-friendly, accommodating and knowledgeable about the eatery and its flavorful menus. Our bartender Caleb (would you check out that smile?!) offered great tips on the wine list hailing from Baja’s Guadalupe Valley, the selections of Mexican cerveza, and primo suggestions from the menu. I mean – really – how can a self-proclaimed foodie such as myself narrow down Bracero’s menu and order just a few selections? It’s a shameless lesson in futility 😦
Bracero translates to laborer – one who works with their hands. Cocina translates to kitchen. Raiz translates to roots. The restaurant is filled with industrial tools and relics from working gardens and fields Hats belonging to Mexican laborers line the walls of the stairwell leading to the upper level dining and bar area. Bracero Cocina de Raiz pays wonderful homage – not only to the fruits of the land, but to the workers who tend the fields.
A mouthwatering menu bursting with imaginative dishes prepared with the freshest ingredients available from both the land and the sea. An inspired, contemporary space where rustic kitchen utensils and farm implements (check out the antique plow strategically hanging above the downstairs bar area) honor the roots of Baja farm laborers and chefs. A welcoming, friendly, and professional staff working together like a well-oiled machine. Chef Plascencia and Bracero Cocina de Raiz have nailed it on every level. Bravo Bracero – Bravo!
Is there a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon in San Diego than wining and dining al fresco style at Bracero’s indoor-outdoor bar? Ummm – I think not … Salud mi amigos!