Bursting onto the scene starting tomorrow is Curadero, the colorful two-part restaurant that is the new centerpiece of downtown’s Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego. Completely re-conceptualized after the shutter of Saltbox last fall, the space has been redone to reflect its fresh direction as a “soulful, coastal Mexican kitchen”. Executive chef Brad Kraten and sous chef Emiliano Najera, who traveled to Mexico together while developing a menu of traditional dishes that reflect Mexican regional cuisine and our local ingredient landscape; Curadero’s “cures” range from chilaquiles and pozole for breakfast and brunch to a restorative vuelva à la vida with a mix of clams, oysters, shrimp in citrusy Mexican cocktail sauce and aguachile verde with shrimp, cucumber, marinated red onions, and lemon. Kraten told Eater that he designed the menu to be shareable and most importantly fun; larger plates, including adobo-marinated charcoal-grilled whole fish and chamorro-braised pork shank with marinated onions come with housemade tortillas and sides.
The main restaurant, located on the ground floor, includes a dining room decorated by a mural from Mexican artist Neuzz within an interior designed by Studio Unltd; there’s a small crudo bar, with a front row view of Curadero’s oyster shuckers, and a bar overseen by lead bartender Jade Boyd, formerly of Juniper & Ivy. Stocked with more than 80 premium tequilas and other Mexican spirits plus Baja wine and Mexican beers, the bar also features housemade sangritas for sipping, verditas for shooting and Boyd’s approachable, food-friendly seasonal cocktail menu that includes the Viceroyalty with Pisco Portón, tamarind, chipotle, lime, and Boy Drinks World serrano bitters and the Salty Chancho with Corralejo Reposado tequila, mango, lemon, serrano served with scorpion-embedded edible angostura bitters lollipop.
The fun continues upstairs in the Arriba Room, which will welcome late night diners from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The lounge space holds classic arcade games, foosball and shuffle board, with a dedicated bar pouring margaritas on draft, Mexican beer and wine; a walk-up window will feed the crowd with Mexican-inspired snacks and a rotating menu of tacos that could include beer-battered white fish with charred habanero mayo and braised short rib with marinated onions, cilantro and chipotle-peanut salsa.