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Increasingly, chefs of all stripes are turning south of the border for culinary inspiration. (Just look at René Redzepi’s recently concluded Noma residency in Tulum, Mexico.) Chef Blake Edmunds, whose name might ring familiar thanks to his time at Tap & Burger and Bar Dough, has followed suit with Señor Bear, a joint project with chef Max MacKissock, Juan Padro, and Katie O’Shea Padro.
Mexico inspires much of the menu at the Highland restaurant, which opened on June 9 in the space formerly occupied by Jezebel’s Southern Bistro and Bar—but that’s not the whole story. Edmunds & Co. have taken a pan-Latin approach, pulling culinary influence from just about every Spanish-speaking country on the planet: Spain, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Peru are all represented. But rather than taking diners on a tour of authentic regional dishes, Edmunds fuses techniques and ingredients into his own original creations.
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The resulting menu offers everything from a duck empanada to salsa verde-topped queso fundido to king crab ceviche with puffed rice. Other than a tendency toward saltiness, most of the dishes are executed with a light touch and an attention to textural contrast. While we’ve yet to go wrong with any of the bright, refreshing seafood dishes listed under “mariscos,” the “arrachera”—prepared here with beef short rib—is a compelling reason to venture into the meatier portion of the menu. The cut is braised and grilled to a tender medium rare, then plated with vibrant chimichurri sauce, fried potatoes doused in a mild chile jam, and corn “humita,” which Edmunds describes as polenta made with fresh, sweet corn.
The bar program is where the party comes in. A festive cocktail list highlights tequila, mezcal, rum, and pisco, the widely under appreciated South American brandy. Get an easy introduction with the refreshing Celso cocktail, featuring Jack Rabbit Hill’s local pisco (the Hotchkiss-based distiller is making the brandy specifically for Señor Bear), lime juice, house ginger beer, and angostura bitters.
Bonus: Señor Bear will start happy hour—which it’s calling “hora loca”—very soon, and when it does, you’ll want to be there for playful bites such as a miniature take on the Taco Bell gordita.
3307 Tejon St., 720-572-5997