Since first opening in Little Italy, Bracero’s rollercoaster ride has had no shortage of dramatic twists and turns. After a banner first year that led to the Kettner Street hotspot earning numerous accolades, including a a place on Eater’s Best New Restaurants in America list and a Best New Restaurant semifinalist nod from the James Beard Awards in 2016, several staff and menu shakeups followed — most significantly, the decision of its high-profile executive chef Javier Plascencia to split with the restaurant this past January to concentrate on other projects.
As Bracero nears its second anniversary, co-founder Luis Pena has announced that he will essentially overhaul its concept and design, transforming it into Romesco Mexiterranean Cocina, a version of his 13-year-old Bonita restaurant Romesco Mexiterranean Cocina. The switch is scheduled for early June, a quick reconfiguration that will turn the downstairs section of the restaurant into a casual tapas bar with a Spanish bullfighting decor; the upstairs level will remain a more formal area for sit-down dinner experiences.
Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro is known for a menu that fuses Mexican flavors with Mediterranean cuisine. Bracero chefs Eduardo Covarrubias and Adan Tintos will now be cooking up dishes inspired by Mediterranean countries ranging from Spain and Italy to Greece and France. Paella will reportedly be featured, along with Romesco’s signature tableside Caesar salad service; the menu will also retain some of Bracero’s most popular items.
In a statement, Pena shared, "What we are looking for is to provide more choices for our diners. With a vast menu full of tapas including tacos, tostadas, pastas and a wide variety of entrees both from Mexico and the Mediterranean, there will a lot more options for everyone to enjoy.” Pena will be introducing daily specials, including half-off tapas after 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and 50 percent off bottles of California and Baja wine on Wednesdays. The bar will stay centered around agave spirits, with some new Mediterranean influences, while Spanish wines and more Mexican craft beer will be added.