Anticipated to open by the first week of November, Cocina de Barrio will replace the Hillcrest location of Swami’s Cafe. The 4,500-square-foot space, at the corner of 5th Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, has been shuttered since last month for a remodel.
Swami’s owner Jaime Osuna is partnering with executive chef Jose Flores on the new restaurant. Flores, an 18-year veteran of the restaurant industry, is an alum of the California Culinary Academy. Though he’s cooked in several well-known Italian kitchens, including Civico 1845, Solare, and Via Italia, the chef tells Eater that he’s looking forward to working on a project that reflects his own heritage.
Focusing on the cuisine of Oaxaca as well as other regions of Mexico, Cocina de Barrio’s menu will include hand-pressed corn tortillas and classic Oaxacan dishes ranging from a variety of mole to fried grasshoppers and tlayudas, slightly-crisp large tortillas spread with refried beans and various toppings. Starters will include prickly pear and lime-cured striped bass ceviche, salmon tiradito with pickled strawberry, red onion, and mint, and infladita de barbacoa, puffed blue corn tortillas topped with 10-hour braised beef barbacoa, aguacate salsa, and mole amarillo while entrees range from chamorro de borrego, a braised lamb shank, to a popular Nayarit seafood dish called pescado zarandeado. Desserts will feature homemade ice cream in flavors like Mexican hot chocolate, mole, corn and lime, and dulce de leche.
Flores says that the restaurant will also offer brunch, as well as a 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. happy hour on the patio that will feature tacos and drink specials from the bar, which will pour a large selection of tequila, mezcal, Mexican craft beer, and wine from Baja.