|Bracero's wood-grilled octopus|
It received more hype than any San Diego restaurant over the course of the year-plus leading up to its opening. Baja star chef Javier Plascencia's second U.S. and most northerly eatery Bracero Cocina de Raiz has been open for a little over a month in Little Italy, but OpenTable reservations have been booked up since before its debut. We had the inside scoop that bar and patio seating was first-come-first-serve, so we cozied up to a table on the first floor patio for dinner on a quiet weekday evening, and after our al fresco meal, we must say that the potential is there for Bracero to live up to the hype and become San Diego's top destination for upscale, modern Mexican cuisine.
Chef Javier Plascencia is the biggest name in Baja's culinary community since Caesar Cardini invented his namesake salad in 1924 at Caesar's Restaurant in Tijuana, which Plascencia and family now own. We have been to many of his restaurants on both sides of the border, including Romesco Mexiterranean (Bonita), Mision 19 (Tijuana), Erizo (Tijuana), Caesar's, and Finca Altozano (Valle de Guadalupe) and found Bracero on par with the best of the other Grupo Plascencia eateries. Plascencia's menus always offer a rustic elegance, likely a reflection of a humble upbringing that launched him into the restaurant industry with his father's opening of one of Mexico's first pizzerias.
|Chef Javier Plascencia|
|First floor bar/dining room at Bracero|
We were excited to try one of the entrée options, as they are all cooked in part using a specially designed Caja China-type roasting box made by our friend and colleague Gustav Anders Rooth of Planet Rooth Design Haus. We loved the albondigas, crispy brisket and short rib ($24) with ayocote beans caldillo, chochoyones, avocado leaf and pickled chayote squash, and although the meatballs were a bit on the dry side, the flavors were all there to make this dish exceptional and home-y in all the right ways.
bracerococina.com or call (619) 756-7864, and be sure to check out the photos below.