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Monday, June 27, 2016

OCFoodieGirl in the SD's visit to 'Bracero Cocina'

I recently traveled down to San Diego to visit friends & family and had to make a side trip to Chef Javier Plascencia's new downtown hot spot, Bracero Cocina. I'd been trying to get my booty down to Bracero since it opened almost a year ago and was so excited to finally be able to check it out. It's been pretty much non-stop accolades since it opened so I had some pretty hefty expectations!

The first thing you'll notice as you arrive at Bracero is it's outdoor seating area and the beautiful glass-encased upstairs deck above you.

The upstairs also has a beautiful wrap-around bar that extends onto the deck - the perfect place to cool off with a drink on a sunny San Diego day! The locals have obviously come to the same conclusion as the bar portion on the outdoor deck was packed on my visit here!

The inside part of the bar...
Once inside you'll be struck by the homey decor - reminiscent of being in your Mexican Grandmother's kitchen. Even so, there's still a modern feel to the space which gives you a hint of the modern Mexican food you're in store for upon being seated. The decor is a really well done blend of old and new.  Of course, even as lovely as the decor is at Bracero, this all means nothing if the food isn't up to par right? ;)

We started our dinner with a cocktail for me and bowl of homemade house guacamole for my avocado-loving friend.

The 'Mahola Guey'

My cocktail, the 'Mahalo Guey' (Hey Buddy!) was super refreshing with a unique combination of green tea infused rum, kalani coconut, lime and orgeat. It was slightly reminiscent of an amaretto sour and was the perfect accompaniment for a sunny day on the deck.

House Guacamole - yummy yum!

The house guacamole was not just your standard mashed avocados - this guacamole was almost a meal all by itself with lentils, chickpeas & blackbean hummus incorporated into creamy avocados. Insanely delicious!

Tijuana Original Caeser!

Seeing as Chef Plascensia also owns the infamous Caeser's Restaurant in Tijuana, where the original Caeser Salad was invented we couldn't resist ordering the 'Original Caesar Salad'. I have to say this doesn't disappoint -- at first glance (see for yourself in my pic) it doesn't look that exciting but the flavors are spot on with the perfect mix of dijon, garlic, parmesan, anchovy and lime. This is a MUST order here if you're a fan of this salad. :)

Shrimp & Bone Marrow Sopes - SO good!

Our hands down favorite dish was delivered next - the Shrimp & Bone Marrow Sopes. Now, I love a good basic sope to begin with but this is way beyond a basic sope. First off, the masa corn cake was perfectly cooked and was the ideal vessel for the delicious bone marrow shrimp mix, topped with fried crispy parsley,radish wedges and a creamy chile de árbol sauce. Heaven on a corn cake basically!
Crispy Brisket & Shortrib

Our final dish was the Crispy Brisket & Shortrib which comes out almost as a stew with an ayocote bean caldillo, chochoyones (corn dumplings), avocado leaf, wood fired baby sweet potatoes and a serrano gastrique sauce. Needless to say it was fabulous - they also brought out some homemade warm corn tortillas (divine all by themselves!) with which to eat the dish. The tortillas were the perfect match for the fall of the bone, flavorful beef, and dipping the tortilla in the sauce just added more of that wonderful flavor to each bite.

Dark Chocolate Mole Cake

Grapefruit Panna Cotta
We couldn't decide on just one dessert from the yummy list so we opted for two - the grapefruit panna cotta and the dark chocolate mole cake. Both were very tasty but the grapefruit panna cotta really stole the show. The minute it hits your tongue you're overcome by the bright citrus flavor melded into the creamy texture of the panna cotta, all perfectly contrasted with the sweetness of the passion fruit sherbet and the salty crunch of ground pistachios. It's a play on unique flavors and textures that works really well together. HIGHLY recommend.

All in all I was very impressed with Bracero and have to say all the accolades are highly deserved! Next time you're heading to San Diego, I highly recommend you make a reservation and indulge your hunger in the wonderful flavors that Chef Plascencia has created at Bracero.

Bracero Cocina is located in the Litte Italy section of downtown San Diego at 1490 Kettner Blvd.  For more information, including menus, hours & to make a reservation, check out their full website here:

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