The creating at 19101 Highway in Sonoma cannot be faulted if it’s been struggling an id crisis for a when now. In 2016, it bid adieu to the Breakaway Café, a longtime neighborhood beloved and occupant of 22 many years. In 2018, right after an intensive renovation by new owners, it became Mint and Liberty Diner, closing just after just 13 months.
In 2019, the boxy space grew to become Picazo Kitchen area & Bar, introduced to us by Kina and Salvador Picazo Chavez, Sonoma restaurateurs who also very own Picazo Café on Arnold Generate and the Picazo foods truck. Following a pandemic closure and rapid experience-carry, it reopened this spring as Kina’s Kitchen & Bar, with Kina Chavez at the helm.
The cafe now offers some of the most attention-grabbing takes on Mexican cuisine in Sonoma, riveting with shiny flavors and twists, plus some purely comfort-food classics that reflect Kina’s household historical past and immigrant journey as a Mexican American.
Dishes like her mother’s pozole mingle on the menu with American favorites these types of as home made biscuits, Niman Ranch burgers and Nashville fried chicken. The menu also options Vietnamese-style major round beef pho and vegan choices these as an acai bowl with granola, coconut flakes, berries and chia seeds. It all operates.
In 2009, Kina’s husband and mother-in-law opened Picazo Café, a tiny hole-in-the-wall breakfast-lunch location, Kina Chavez reported. Then Salvador’s mom still left the business, and he invested in a mezcal enterprise. Salvador began traveling thoroughly and wanted to market the cafe.
“So I explained, ‘Let me support,’” Kina claimed. “I experienced worked in places to eat complete time though in school.”
Unfortunately, the menu was not incredibly various from the first cafe, 1.3 miles absent, and persons had been acquiring puzzled, ordering and picking up meals at the improper area. Then the pandemic occurred.
“When we had to shut down, we had the option to truly appear at what we had been accomplishing,” Kina mentioned. “I talked to a lot of my prospects and questioned them what they preferred. They mentioned elevated, superior-conclusion Mexican food items. My mother, Maria Marquez, is a superb prepare dinner, and I normally needed to open a cafe with her recipes with a twist. So I designed our menu a minimal additional healthful and trendy, and I loved it.”
Large-finish, it’s not. But it is balanced in components, fashionable in parts and scrumptious throughout the board.
Depend me loving the pozole. The meat and hominy stew or soup is ordinarily bathed in either pink, obvious or green broth that corresponds to the colours of the Mexican flag — ordinarily, in Sonoma, we obtain the purple and pork variation. Kina, on the other hand, provides an fantastic green and natural chicken rendition that is one particular of the very best I have experienced outdoors of Mexico.
The foundation begins with rooster thighs, celery, onions, a great deal of garlic, carrots, peppercorns, apple cider vinegar, refreshing thyme sprigs and Himalayan salt, simmered for hours. Then the chef roasts poblano chiles, jalapeños, tomatillos and additional onion and garlic sprinkled in olive oil, oregano, Himalayan salt and black pepper. That blend goes into the concluded broth with the now-shredded chicken, contemporary cilantro and natural hominy for another mild simmer.
When it comes at the desk, the steaming-very hot attractiveness is piled with a in close proximity to-salad of crisp radish, cabbage, avocado, lime and tortilla strips ($11 cup, $19 bowl). It is so good, so loaded and so generously portioned that a bowl is an overall entree.
Chavez also seems to be to her mother for the menu’s stunning rust-coloured rooster enmoladas, updating the pink mole enchiladas with roasted cauliflower and a complete of microgreens, radish, queso cotija, sesame seeds and sides of cilantro rice and newborn greens ($21).
I was not thinking of a chimichanga till our server encouraged us to try out it. Good phone — on its wooden board, the generation appeared like a sushi roll, a extensive and slender strip sliced into bite-dimension chunks of frivolously fried flour tortilla stuffed with chicken, mozzarella, cilantro rice and grilled corn, all sprinkled with cotija cheese, microgreens, spoonfuls of pico de gallo and chipotle aioli ($16). I’d make this a weekly pattern with a margarita flight of seasonal fruit ($20) or a spicy-organic Watermelon Smash of habanero-infused vodka, cordial spirit, Aperol and lime juice ($13).
Let us communicate beet bruschetta, too. The Instagram-quite presentation is a pleasure to investigate, with its “crostini” of green plantains topped in chopped beets marinated in Italian dressing, homemade pesto, sliced toasted almonds, sesame seeds and cilantro ($12). I paired it with a strawberry-cherry Robledo Merlot rosé ($10 glass, $38 bottle) created by the eponymous spouse and children of Mexican heritage in Carneros.
Even with the culinary upgrades, Kina’s un-fashionable placing is comforting, with its cozy fern-bar-fulfills-bistro ambiance. There are smooth strains of bistro tables but also diner-design and style booths and a fake trellis dripping vines in the middle of the dining home. We watched a significant desk of diners celebrating a baby’s initial calendar year with the staff singing “Happy Birthday,” the grownups digging into pan-seared salmon and prawn tacos ($19) and the youngsters nibbling hen tenders with fries ($9).
The birthday family members provided us cake as we walked by on our way out. This is a neighborhood spot, nevertheless also worthy of a travel. The give designed us feel delighted, settled and excited for the new place, just as this Highway 12 setting up should really feel now.
Carey Sweet is a Sebastopol-primarily based food items and cafe writer. Examine her restaurant reviews just about every other 7 days in Sonoma Existence. Contact her at [email protected]