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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sweet Bread Tacos and Mezcal Gin at Calavera

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

2015 is pretty much going down as the Year of the Maguey Plant. The various liquors distilled from agave (tequila, mezcal, raicilla) are showing up everywhere and putting further dents in any lingering misconception that Mexican cuisine is in any way uniform. In that vein, we could not be more excited for Calavera, a forthcoming Mexican restaurant and agave bar in Oakland that’s been hosting little teasers.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
We had the opportunity of checking out four of their tacos and several of their drinks at a preview at Lungomare on Tuesday night. By far the best of the tacos were the mollejas con pitaya (fried, masa-crusted sweetbreads, dragonfruit, and pickled fresno peppers), although that’s not intended to give short shrift to the pollo con mole poblano, the calabacitas (summer squash, corn, epazote cream, and squash blossom) or the cochinita pibil (baby pig with an axiote rub and xni pec).

In case you’re wondering, xni pec (“knee peek”) is a habanero salsa that comes from the Mayan words for “dog nose,” a reference to how hard you sweat after eating it.

But the cocktails were even better. A watermelon margarita (Pierde Almas espedin, watermelon, cilantro, and chile piquin) washed down that cochinita pibil no problem, but Jonathan’s Gin & Tonic (+9 Pierde Almas Mezcal Gin, cucumber, juniper, hibiscus, and Fever Tree tonic) was probably the most beautiful G&T we’ve ever seen. If it looks like potpourri riding on a Mobius strip of cucumber, the herbal notes were surprisingly restrained. Throwing back two or three of those on a hot afternoon would mean a very pleasant naptime.

There were also pours of Pierde Almas Conejo Mezcal. While the elixir’s name means “lost souls,” this variety (“the rabbit”) comes from a mountain village in the state of Oaxaca. Suspending a rabbit inside the alembic so that the steam captures its flavor before the mezcal moves onto the condenser tube imparts wild aromas and a depth at the expense of consistency. Each batch may be unlike any other.

Calavera is scheduled to open the doors in early August in Oakland’s HIVE Project, with one of the largest selections of tequilas and mezcals in the country.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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