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Kimpton Hotel's alleyway of Mexican primo spirits

1/4 ounce of creme de violet binds to scent receptors

Curadero — an escape from Gaslamp madness
Curadero — an escape from Gaslamp madness

“Curadero” may not mean much outside of the downtown San Diego Kimpton, but within its lobby-side, mural-strewn walls, the neologism signifies top-quality Cali-Baja cuisine, inspired cocktails, choice drafts, 80+ premium Mexican spirits (including mezcal, bacanora, sotol, and, of course, tequila), Valle de Guadalupe wines, and an alleyway atmosphere in the comfort and luxury of a boutique hotel.

Place

Curadero

1047 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

“The name is a play on curandera, or a Mexican folk healer,” says general manager Casey Jones. “Where is the house of healing? The curadero.

It’s akin to Tijuana’s popular Los Remedios — a diner and michelada fountain meant to stand in defiance of (and thereby only prolonging) hangovers — except it’s upscale and of much better quality. Bottles of charcoal lemonade and aloe vera juice sit on the bar as lead bartender Jade Boyd explores potions garnished with seasonal ingredients for the fall menu. Across the barrio-chic restaurant — designed by interior architects Studio Unltd. and decorated by Mexican muralist Neuzz — the Crudo Bar prepares ornate, raw-seafood dishes at the hands of executive chef Brad Kraten and sous chef Emiliano Najera.

Upstairs in the Arriba Room, late-night patrons sip cocktails around coin-free classic arcade games and order snacks from a brick-bound taco window spackled with graffiti. It feels set apart, dangerless, sophisticated, and even homely by the time you reach the private party room with exposed wood beams and cozy furniture. Casey calls it “an escape from the madness of Gaslamp,” and that’s about right.

Having opened in April following Saltbox’s five-year tenure, Curadero’s happy hour (3 to 6 daily) highlights Tijuana bar and street snacks such as cacahuates, chicharrones de harina, papas de carrito, guacamole con totopos, ensalada curadero (fruit salad), and, best of all, orders of two chicken tinga (stewed bird) tacos or beef suadero (juicy braised short rib, and plenty of it) tacos for six bucks. Oh, and several killer $8 cocktails.

But let’s turn over to the specialty menu, where the Luna de Playa ($14) shimmers with El Jimador blanco, Hendrick’s gin, a guanabana rum liqueur, lemon, agave, and — check this out — 1/4 ounce of creme de violet. The ionone in the violet binds to scent receptors, masking the flower just moments after you sense it, leaving a tug-of-war between citric acid and floral powder, in which citrus wins, to nip at the taste buds amid ghost notes of distant bouquet. It’s really quite the cure.

Prices: Beer, $6–$8; cocktails, $8–$14; wine, $9–$14.

Food: Classy Cali-Baja

Hours: Restaurant, 7 a.m.–10 p.m.; Taco Window, Th-Sa 9 p.m.–1 a.m.; Bar: M–F 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sa–Su 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

Happy: Daily 3–6 p.m.

Parking: Downtown... good luck

Capacity: Sits about 40 downstairs, 30 upstairs.

The Deal: $8 Mule of the Week during happy hour

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Curadero — an escape from Gaslamp madness
Curadero — an escape from Gaslamp madness

“Curadero” may not mean much outside of the downtown San Diego Kimpton, but within its lobby-side, mural-strewn walls, the neologism signifies top-quality Cali-Baja cuisine, inspired cocktails, choice drafts, 80+ premium Mexican spirits (including mezcal, bacanora, sotol, and, of course, tequila), Valle de Guadalupe wines, and an alleyway atmosphere in the comfort and luxury of a boutique hotel.

Place

Curadero

1047 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

“The name is a play on curandera, or a Mexican folk healer,” says general manager Casey Jones. “Where is the house of healing? The curadero.

It’s akin to Tijuana’s popular Los Remedios — a diner and michelada fountain meant to stand in defiance of (and thereby only prolonging) hangovers — except it’s upscale and of much better quality. Bottles of charcoal lemonade and aloe vera juice sit on the bar as lead bartender Jade Boyd explores potions garnished with seasonal ingredients for the fall menu. Across the barrio-chic restaurant — designed by interior architects Studio Unltd. and decorated by Mexican muralist Neuzz — the Crudo Bar prepares ornate, raw-seafood dishes at the hands of executive chef Brad Kraten and sous chef Emiliano Najera.

Upstairs in the Arriba Room, late-night patrons sip cocktails around coin-free classic arcade games and order snacks from a brick-bound taco window spackled with graffiti. It feels set apart, dangerless, sophisticated, and even homely by the time you reach the private party room with exposed wood beams and cozy furniture. Casey calls it “an escape from the madness of Gaslamp,” and that’s about right.

Having opened in April following Saltbox’s five-year tenure, Curadero’s happy hour (3 to 6 daily) highlights Tijuana bar and street snacks such as cacahuates, chicharrones de harina, papas de carrito, guacamole con totopos, ensalada curadero (fruit salad), and, best of all, orders of two chicken tinga (stewed bird) tacos or beef suadero (juicy braised short rib, and plenty of it) tacos for six bucks. Oh, and several killer $8 cocktails.

But let’s turn over to the specialty menu, where the Luna de Playa ($14) shimmers with El Jimador blanco, Hendrick’s gin, a guanabana rum liqueur, lemon, agave, and — check this out — 1/4 ounce of creme de violet. The ionone in the violet binds to scent receptors, masking the flower just moments after you sense it, leaving a tug-of-war between citric acid and floral powder, in which citrus wins, to nip at the taste buds amid ghost notes of distant bouquet. It’s really quite the cure.

Prices: Beer, $6–$8; cocktails, $8–$14; wine, $9–$14.

Food: Classy Cali-Baja

Hours: Restaurant, 7 a.m.–10 p.m.; Taco Window, Th-Sa 9 p.m.–1 a.m.; Bar: M–F 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sa–Su 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

Happy: Daily 3–6 p.m.

Parking: Downtown... good luck

Capacity: Sits about 40 downstairs, 30 upstairs.

The Deal: $8 Mule of the Week during happy hour

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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