While construction continues behind Bracero Cocina de Raiz's doors in Little Italy, the buzzed-about restaurant shared a peek at the menu to come at a dinner over the weekend that was part of sister restaurant Romesco's anniversary celebration in Bonita.
Executive chef and owner Javier Plascencia was in the kitchen along with Bracero's new pastry chef, Janina Garay, who worked with Rick Bayless' restaurant group in Chicago and the Urban Kitchen group (CUCINA urbana) locally.
To recap for those who haven't been keeping up with Eater's comprehensive Bracero coverage, the Kettner Street eatery spans 4,800 square-feet and two levels, a casual ground floor with a long dining bar that holds a raw/ceviche station, multiple wells for cocktail service and a taco area with fresh-made tortillas and meats on vertical spits and upstairs, a more upscale dining room and bar that will be fed by an open kitchen and a Caja China-style smoker/grill/oven, custom made by Planet Rooth.
Placencia said that the plates, which ranged from a coconut water aguachile of hiramasa, or yellowtail amberjack, with heat-tempering touches of cream coconut fluid gel and fermented pineapple to a tasty tostada of local heritage pork pozole and a dry aged beef dish inspired by his grandmother that came accompanied by confit cow udder in a tomato and bone marrow broth, will likely make it to his final menu.
Bracero's new manager and wine director, JM Woody van Horn, paired each course with a wine off his new list, which he says will be split evenly between Baja and Alta California labels from wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe to Mexican-owned wineries throughout California; Sonoma Valley's Robledo Family Winery, the first winery in the U.S. founded by a former Mexican migrant worker, makes a cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah blend fortuitously called "Los Braceros", which will be a featured wine. Garay's dessert, a fresh-ground chocolate torte with toasted peanut sherbet and a complex red berry mole, was served with a Black IPA from Tijuana's Cerveceria Insurgente, which will be providing a series of craft beers to the restaurant.