Hardly another tequila bar, this sexy new restaurant in Hermosa Beach serves up cocktails and spicy treats that honor its Los Cabos namesake.
As the sun lingers for a final few seconds over the Pacific before slipping under the horizon, he cracks a sly smile and deftly pours a perfect splash of agave nectar into his cocktail shaker. Lounging at the marble-topped bar, she tests the Tajin chile salt rim on her watermelon cilantro margarita and delicately sips. Her eyes close as the libation transports her instantly southward.
Not to be left out of the moment, I bring a forkful of fresh pescado blanco to my mouth, having a steamy encounter of my own with the Ceviche Tres Maneras. I can’t contain myself any longer. “Yes! Yes! Yes! That was the best I’ve ever had! More — please!”
This outburst was made possible by Palmilla Cocina y Tequila, an enchanting new adult playground in the South Bay.
Palmilla serves up Mexican Riviera-inspired cocktails, premium tequilas and outrageously delectable contemporary Mexican cuisine in a sensuously elegant restaurant just steps from the ocean waves. Dining in Hermosa Beach has never been more beautiful, spicy or swoon-worthy. This place is just plain hot.
If you can’t take the heat, get out of the cocina
There’s a wood fire grill in the Palmilla kitchen, and Executive Chef Christina Cipres isn’t afraid to use it. She brings the heat, but balances it brilliantly with the unexpected lushness of a tequila cream sauce or the refreshing chill of papaya ceviche. Her cooking flirts with the sublime and her dishes are pitch-perfect — a wonderfully complex orchestration of flavors and textures.
The heavenly Pollo con Mole Blanco is pan-seared with Spanish spices and finished with a rich, velvety pepita mole. The Short Rib Taquitos are filled with sweet chipotle braised beef and a tomatillo jalapeno salsa that gives a nice edge to the hand-made corn tortillas hot off the comal. Fresh Dungeness crab and jumbo Mexican white prawns get a zesty kick from a Serrano pepper broth in the must-order Mariscos Mezclan.
From the simple and satisfying Quesadilla de la Parrilla to the exotically creative Chipotle Pollo y Hongos, the choicest market-fresh ingredients and a passionate eye for detail elevate every dish.
Agave, spice and everything nice
Palmilla’s impressive list of artistic, handcrafted cocktails is curated by charismatic master mixologist Manny Hinojosa. Manny is downright zealous about Mexico’s national pride, tequila. He takes great pleasure in creating unique concoctions blended with fresh fruits, chilies and spices.
My favorites? The Pineapple Serrano Cilantro Margarita and the Pepino Diablo. But if you’re not in the mood for a tequila tryst, the Rico Suave might just charm you off your feet with muddled cucumber and jalapeno, pear vodka, elderflower liqueur, and homemade agave sweet and sour. It’s the kind of mixology that can get you into trouble.
Beauty and the beach
Palmilla’s name, look and feel were inspired by a luxury beach resort community along Mexico’s Los Cabos corridor that was developed by Abelardo Luis “Rod” Rodriguez in 1953. A stunt pilot, playboy, WW2 vet, debonair sportsman, real estate tycoon and visionary, Rodriguez may quite possibly be the prototype for the most interesting man in the world.
His dashing sophistication coupled with the beauty of Los Cabos is inherent in the sexy design of Palmilla. Created by critically acclaimed architect and designer Gulla Jonsdottir of G+ Design (Red O, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Robata Bar), Palmilla’s candle-filled interior oozes beguiling character, elegance and warmth. Pristine white stone walls, swanky leather banquettes, antique chandeliers, handcrafted Mexican accents and a seductive outdoor patio with a roaring fire pit … you’ll be captivated the minute you arrive.
Fear of intimacy?
I have a confession. I selfishly found myself tempted to keep this luscious new restaurant to myself, and the words of legendary food writer M.F.K. Fisher came to mind: “Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” A glowing review of Palmilla Cocina y Tequila will, of course, pique your desire to check it out. And after you fall in love with Palmilla, I’ll have a much harder time scoring one of their buttery-soft leather banquettes.
This is a relationship I’d like to keep private.
But, in the end, I can’t be selfish (or compromise my integrity as a food writer). Truth is, wickedly good cuisine and tantalizing cocktails in a dramatically lit tequileria would be even more exciting if you were here.
Copyright © Michelle Gigon/2011 Singular Communications, LLC.
Pamilla Cocina y Tequila
39 Pier Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA
Sunday – Thursday from 4 pm to midnight
Saturday – Sunday from 4 pm to 1:30 am
For reservations, call 310-374-4440