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We all deserve a delicious birthday meal right? I decided to check out the very popular and recently opened Bracero Cocina de Raiz for mine. The headliner was Chef Javier Plascencia (last seen in my Caffe Calabria Specialty Produce post).
During the Taste of Little Italy, the restaurant wasn't even officially open yet Bracero was serving these grilled and roasted spaghetti squash tacos. So many unique items. I've been seeing beautiful photos on social media and we were NOT disappointed by the real thing. Are you ready to start drooling yet? These platings at Bracero were unbelievably gorgeous!
Albacore Two Ways / Seared / Tartare
This dish had lots of layers of flavor, texture and color. The top was seared albacore with a fried zucchini layer and another sort of catfish battered albacore in the middle. I loved that the squash added a natural sweetness and had a little fried edge. There was a lime zest appeal to the overall dish, including another zesty sauce underneath, with the boldest flavor being the spicy jalapeno on top. It was a winner for us.
It amused us that we saw this on the table next to us and had to order it, then later when we received the item, the table next to US had to order it too!
We were brought small containers of salsa, made fresh in the restaurant daily. These were placed in order from lighter to spiciest (level 5, 7, 9, 10 as rated by our waiter). Dennis thought they weren't so much "spicy" but rather added different flavor to whatever was dipped in it.
Casa Plascencia's Beef Tongue
The next thing we got were tacos. We originally wanted beef cheek but they were out so instead we ordered the beef tongue. It looked pretty simple but I was mesmorized by the tenderness of the meat. It didn't need much bite, sort of even melts in your mouth as much as a beef item can. I loved the texture in my mouth and the citrusy lemon in it.
Cook Pigs Ranch Carnitas Taco
The other taco we got was the carnitas, equally tender and juicy but this came with salsa and carrots! The pickled carrot had a crunch to it, rather than warm and soft like other mexican places. Without the salsa, I think it would have been somewhat plain. Could also be due to how good the other taco was in comparison.
Wood Grilled Octopus
We have been trying more octopus lately (such as Pacifica Del Mar) so this one was a must-order. It came came in a huge custom art plate. Gorgeous once again. There seems to be a recurring theme of fresh flowers in the food too! The octopus pieces were decent sized and we liked that it was not as charred as the previous restaurant. The black sauce on the bottom was more of a citrusy black bean sauce that was salted with a slight jalapeño kick. There was also a second savory sauce great for dipping the octopus. Or maybe the combination of both sauces gave the citrus savoriness to it.
Look at this awesome plate! Are these Chef's actual tattoos?
Shrimp and Bone Marrow Sopes
The next item we got were two sopas. These had a bit of crust and resistance to them which met our thin and crispy sopa preference. There was a good amount of shrimp here with more of that citrus punch. Dennis thought the flavor was good but wanted a stronger taste, maybe more garlic or butter. I had no issues with it and thought it was a lovely dish. I'm not really sure which item was my favorite of the night!
Paleta de Avellana
We of course had to end with a dessert. The MOST beautiful popsicle you have ever seen. So detailed and almost untouchable... but of course we ate it anyway. The insides were like creamy gelato without the cold plus a fantastic contrast with the nuts on the crust. Approved by both of us.
Brown Butter Panque
Our neighbors were really intriqued with our photo taking process. They requested us to take a picture of their dessert too! SURE we said but noted that we wouldn't know what it tastes like. TAKE A BITE TOO they said. Such delightful neighbors hehe.
It tasted like butter cake to me but for Dennis it reminded him of the inside of Mcdonalds apple pie. The yogurt ice cream really does taste like a lightly sweetened yogurt!
We also took a picture of their other dessert upon their request. It was very different because it was cold and we didn't really care for the temperature. This dessert was sort of like a layered biscuit texture with bits of fruit though I took only a tiny nibble of it. I don't want to be taking away from other people's food now...
Interesting decorations here such as this nifty rowing aircraft machine hanging above the bar.
View of downstairs area from hostess stand. Anyone notice someone special in this pic?
We thought the service was pleasant that day. Our server Hector was delightfully fun and gave us great suggestions. The food (except the tacos) took longer but nothing unbearable, especially considering the meticulous plating. We definitely though it was a great meal and were already eyeing our neighbor's lamb shank. He wasn't even cutting it, more like pushing the meat off the bone because it was falling off! Next time then! Check out Jinxi's birthday post to see more of the menu.
Bracero Cocina de Raiz
1490 Kettner Blvd
San Diego CA 92101