After Less Than A Four-Month Tenure, Romesco Mexiterranean Cocina Shutters In Little Italy | Bi-Level Restaurant Will Rebrand Into King And Queen Cantina

October 2, 2017

Bracero was San Diego's restaurant opening of the year in 2015, but the celebrity-chef backed eatery never lived up to the hype so it was changed to the second outpost of Romesco Mexiterranean Cocina this past June. After less than 4 months in business, Romesco's Little Italy branch has already shuttered and will rebranded, once again, into King and Queen Cantina.

Celebrity Chef Javier Plascencia opened Bracero Cojina de Raiz to much fanfare in September 2015. The restaurant was poised to offer San Diego the tastiest and most authentic Baja-style Mexican food that we've ever seen, but it never met expectations, despite a Best New Restaurant semifinalist nod from the James Beard Awards in 2016. Soon Chef Plascencia left the restaurant - parting ways in business with his brother-in-law and co-owner Luis Pena.

In Spring 2017, Pena made the difficult decision to convert the restaurant into the second location of his longstanding Bonita Mexican and Mediterranean mashup eatery, Romesco Mexiterranean, and reopened the two-story corner spot as Romesco Mexiterranean Cocina in June of this year. Business did not pick up to the point of continuing to attempt to stay afloat, so the company decided to close Romesco as of yesterday. The original Bonita locations remains in business, with no plans on changing at this juncture.

The 4,800 square foot, bi-level eatery at 1490 Kettner Boulevard, which was beautifully designed by Los Angeles-based firm Bells & Whistles (Sycamore Den, The Smoking Goat, Starlite, Facebook corporate headquarters, etc.), will soon transition into King and Queen Cantina, another attempt at a modern Mexican restaurant. There are limited details available about the new restaurant, but it will be operated by Romesco owner Luis Pena in partnership with Jorge Cueva Estrella, a seasoned restaurant veteran that currently operates two branches of his Orange County-based Tempo Urban Kitchen concept in California, with two more on the way. Cueva also served as a top executive for Daphne’s Greek Café and Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill. King and Queen Cantina is expected to unveil mid-October with a menu nearly identical to Tempo Urban Kitchen.

For more information on King and Queen Cantina, visit and check out the sample menus from sister concept Tempo below.