The food found in the Valle de Guadalupe is as much of an attraction as its wine, and one of the region’s most acclaimed chefs is venturing north to open a new restaurant in coastal Oceanside. The project is positioned as a Southern California gateway to Baja’s wine country, serving as an introduction to diners who haven’t had the good fortune to visit there — and a closer-to-home alternative for those who have.
Chef Roberto Alcocer grew up in Ensenada and worked in high-profile kitchens, including Michelin-starred La Broche in Madrid, Spain and Mexico City’s Pujol, number 12 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, before returning to the area to open Malva Cocina de Baja California in 2014. One of Eater’s essential dining destinations, the farm-to-table restaurant with a rustic, open-air kitchen and dining room is named for an herb that grows wild in the Valle de Guadalupe which is often incorporated into the chef’s tasting menu, along with goat’s milk cheese made from animals raised on the property and seafood from local waters.
Alcocer wants to recreate the experience of dining at Malva at his debut stateside restaurant which will be part of the Hyatt’s new Mission Pacific Hotel, though the chef says he wants the restaurant to be a stand-alone draw. He worked closely with his design firm on the layout of the dining room and kitchen, which will be centered around his own brand of charcoal oven.
Some of Malva’s best-selling dishes will be on the menu, but made with produce from Chino Farm or seafood straight the fishermen at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. Most of its wine and beer will be sourced from the Valle de Guadalupe and Ensenada. The chef is also overseeing a poolside rooftop eatery that will serve up street food, from ceviche to tostadas and tacos, inspired by Ensenada.
Alcocer, who recently moved his family to Oceanside, will be back and forth to Malva where he’s installed a new chef de cuisine. Through the incoming California restaurant, which is currently scheduled to open by May or June, the chef says he hopes to fulfill his ambitions for a Michelin star. But it doesn’t mean he’s leaving the Valle behind; the chef told Eater that he has another piece of land in the valley where he’s planning to open an additional restaurant in the next few years.