The transformation of Swami’s former 4,500-square-foot space in Hillcrest is complete; the Fifth Avenue restaurant, renamed Cocina de Barrio, has a new open seating layout with a bougainvillea tree as its centerpiece and a mural inspired by ‘Dualidad’, the famous painting by well-known Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo that depicts Aztec mythology and folklore through a dueling snake and jaguar figures.
Executive chef/partner Jose Flores (Civico 1845, Solare) spearheaded the refresh, which sees Swami’s switch to a more upscale format, offering daily lunch and dinner and a menu of regional Mexican cuisine that mainly spotlights Oaxacan specialties, from a traditional seafood soup heated with hot river rocks to at least three variations of mole and tlayudas topped with queso Oaxaca. Other dishes include seafood crudo, grilled octopus, huitlacoche quesadillas, and braised lamb birria. Flores’ weekend brunch options range from chilaquiles and chorizo hash to blue corn pancakes and churro French toast. A weekday happy hour, held on the patio, will feature a taco cart with hand-pressed tortillas. The bar offers Baja craft beer on tap, wine from the Valle de Guadalupe, and a broad range of mezcal and tequila poured into creative cocktails or available as tasting flights.