Located along San Diego’s up-and-coming Kettner Boulevard, Bracero‘s superb Mexican cuisine and impeccable service ethic is inspired by the story of the Bracero – a theme that has been interpreted in Bells & Whistles design.
The restaurant pays homage to the 1942 Bracero Program – an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico for the importation of workers to fill the gaps of the Americans away fighting WWII, whose absence caused shortages of food and other goods throughout the country.
The program and its steadfast Braceros, or labourers, are largely responsible for establishing California’s food and wine markets as we now know them.
Guests of Bracero are greeted with a wave of warm colours and textures. Festive, leather-upholstered chairs from Mexico and saddle-inspired booth backs are arranged around a mixture of intimate, communal wooden tables throughout the 4800square foot, two-story space. The levels are linked by a prominent leather-clad storage cabinet at the back bar, which spans both floors.
The transition between the first and second floors is marked with an installation of genuine, hand-selected Bracero hats on the landing wall. Along with crisp white shirts, the hats were a functional element of the Bracero uniform, used to protect the workers from the blazing sun. They are hung facing upward to the heavens, in tribute to those who wore them.
Impressive 40 x24in custom-cast concrete tiles created in a geometric agave pattern adorn the long, marble-topped upstairs bar – a decoration that is indicative of the rare tequilas available behind it.
Vintage hand tools from Mexico are arranged on a wall near the exposed kitchen, whilst a massive tilling sculpture lingers between floors in the centre of the room.
Hardwood flooring and hanging fittings offer a nod to the burgeoning Tijuana farm-to-table movement, while a selection of Plascencia’s personal items, objects and art sourced in Mexico lend a cosy, home-like feel to the space.
Bracero’s raw materials combined with antique tools and art imparts a distinctive balance of rustic, modern and authentic Mexicana to the eatery.