Best New Restaurants 2023: Xacalli Kitchen Draws Guests to Silverado Canyon

Xacalli’s seasonal menu is unmatched with its careful selection of canyon-grown produce.

Xacalli Kitchen

28222 Silverado Canyon Road, Silverado, 657-314-9042

A dark and stormy night isn’t enough to keep folks off the unlit road leading to Silverado Canyon’s Xacalli Kitchen. The golden glow from a low-slung building signals this is the just-born Mexican restaurant with fine-dining ambitions. Owner Mimi Nguyen and executive chef Vincent Espinoza join forces to bring elevated cuisine to this unlikely, close-knit enclave. Espinoza, a veteran of AnQi, Chaak, and Gabbi’s, fortifies his seasonal menu with canyon-grown produce. Nguyen revived the long-fallow space using materials from a 1914 lemon packing house, saved in Silverado for decades. Chilled seafood starters include ceviche with aged bass and octopus or aguachiles starring pickled Argentine shrimp.

Queso fundido is melted Oaxacan cheese, wantonly enriched with huitlacoche and accompanied by hot handmade tortillas. Platillos grandes are few but formidable. Next visit, I’m trying the pato con mole, duck breast with cocoa nib oil and mole negro. There’s also roasted whole branzino with guajillo-tomato aioli and, of course, there’s a mighty carne asada—a 16-ounce bone-in New York amped with adobo. Kudos to Espinoza for three peerless desserts, the most ravishing being the fragile meringue disc crowned with tart cream and seasonal fruit. 

Photographs by Emily J. Davis

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