California-Mexican restaurant El Alto opens in Silicon Valley

California-Mexican restaurant El Alto opens in Silicon Valley
Courtesy of Eater SF

Traci Des Jardins goes back to her roots after winning the James Beard Award.

It’s a restaurant that’s been in business for generations. Chef Traci Des Jardins grew up in Firebaugh, Calif., the daughter of a farmer, where her maternal grandparents immigrated from the Mexican state of Sonora. In the coming months, she will open El Alto, a restaurant that celebrates Mexican cuisine while drawing inspiration from California’s fertile Central Valley, where she grew up.

The restaurant's menu incorporates Robert Hurtado's Mexican heritage, a California native who grew up in Los Altos, Calif. With housemade tortillas and pasilla chiles, they've made queso fundido with chorizo verde and guajillo chile, deviled eggs with macha sauce, and confit duck leg with apricot mole and pink beans.

Courtesy of Eater SF

Especially evident in the duck dish is the duo's affection for Central and Northern California, where apricots were once abundant around Los Altos, and Mexico's King City Pink Beans were brought here a century ago.

Almost two decades after opening Jardinière, Des Jardins closed its legendary San Francisco restaurant in 2019, and she said she wanted to make this kind of food. Two years after winning the Beard Award for Rising Star Chef, Des Jardins opened her French-influenced California cuisine restaurant, Des Jardins, which established her as a pillar of the Bay Area dining scene. Taking home Best Chef: Pacific in 2007, she tasted victory again at the Beards.

Courtesy of El Alto

As soon as Jardinière's run ended, Des Jardins stated that he wanted to move on to something different. When she told The New York Times at the time, she said, “I looked at changing the interior and the concept, but I just couldn’t. I’m tired of fine dining.” Her passion is moving her in a different direction.”

Des Jardins' new path now leads her to Silicon Valley, where El Alto, a destination restaurant Des Jardins hopes to build, opens on Thursday, March 24.

California-Mexican cuisine is a unique blend of traditional Mexican dishes and ingredients, fused with the local produce and flavors of California. This culinary hybrid has taken the food world by storm and now, a new restaurant called El Alto is bringing this delicious fusion to Silicon Valley. Located in downtown San Jose, El Alto is the brainchild of Chef Michael Riddell and entrepreneur Gerardo Lopez. The restaurant's menu features an array of tacos, burritos, and ceviches, as well as signature dishes such as the "Mexicali Bowl" and the "Baja Fish Taco".

El Alto's decor is just as impressive as its food. The restaurant features colorful murals and a sleek, modern design that is a refreshing departure from traditional Mexican decor. The bar area is also a highlight, with a wide selection of tequilas and other spirits, as well as a range of craft beers and cocktails.

One of the standout aspects of El Alto is its commitment to sustainability. The restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients and implements eco-friendly practices in its operations. In addition, El Alto has partnered with organizations such as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to promote sustainability and environmental awareness in the community.

Overall, El Alto offers a unique and exciting dining experience in the heart of Silicon Valley. Its blend of California-Mexican cuisine, modern decor, and sustainable practices make it a standout among the region's dining options.

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