Ornate illustrations of medicine men and beasts around a blazing bonfire make up the vibrant mural that anchors the dining space at Curadero, a new coastal Mexican kitchen in the former Saltbox Dining & Drinking space. Executive chef Brad Kraten (previously with Saltbox) and executive sous-chef Emiliano Najera (previously with Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village) are serving up bold, authentic Mexican cuisine that’s made to heal hunger, a hangover or anything else that ails you.
Designed by Los Angeles-based Studio Unltd, Curadero is a rustic yet chic space that pairs modern neutrals with colorful Mexican accents: Pillar candles and decorated skulls adorn the bar, a zarape is draped over the entry table and a mural by street muralist Neuzz pops off a distressed brick wall. The former Saltbox private event space located upstairs has also been transformed, into a playful game room complete with a walk-up taco window.
Start your feast with selections from the crudo bar. The tiradito is a market-driven bite composed of sashimi-like slices of raw fish layered with thin rounds of local Meatmen chorizo. Jalapeno oil, fiery slices of serrano chili peppers and a flurry of micro marigold flowers add a zesty hint of lemon. There’s also chef Kraten’s hiramasa (Baja-farmed yellowtail), which is seasoned with ground ancho chili, then torched to develop a lightly charred crust. Savory fried shallots and a vibrant emulsion of hoja santa—a heart-shaped herb native to Central America—complement the tender fish. You’ll surely want to pair these delicate tastes with a light cocktail option.