Kalaveras offers high-end Mexican cuisine and cocktails in an airy, modern setting.

The new South Redondo dining spot has added patio seating, bright, Day of the Dead-style murals, and a delightful selection of food to Riviera Village. The restaurant is part of a family of Kalaveras restaurants, with locations in Bellflower, Montebello and Whittier as well as the new Redondo Beach spot. Each of the locations offers a slightly different menu, and the Redondo edition is is filled with flavorful choices.

Sitting on the street-front patio on a sunny late afternoon, we started with a margarita—house favorite La Kalavera—featuring traditional silver tequila, triple sec, lime and agave. It was well-blended and delicious, not too sweet, fresh and enough to encourage future visits in and of itself.

Diners next to us ordered Fuego de Dragon, a drink that commanded attention.

This beautiful rosy red mescal-based cocktail was dramatically served under a glass dome; lift it, and the “dragon’s breath” emerges in a smoky curl. Created with habanero-infused mezcal, dragon fruit, pomegranate juice, agave, lemon juice, and cherry bitters, both the ingredients and the dramatic presentation guarantees it’s one to try next time. 

Our meal began with a terrific order of esquite: corn off the cob with butter, roasted garlic aioli, cotija cheese and chili powder.

Like our margaritas, this dish was a delicious combination of flavors. A thorough but light use of cheese made this traditional dish lighter than in other area restaurants; the corn itself was sweet and delicious, presentation on a singed corn husk was attractive. It's a don’t-miss dish.

While there was a wide array of traditional first courses—or lighter entrée choices—such as nachos and quesadillas luring us from other tables, we went with some of the more unique selections.

From a long list of taco options that included chicken, pork, and marinated shrimp, we chose the vegan Camote and the Chogano tacos.

The Camote was a mild, sweet, and tasty combination of roasted sweet potato, pickled onions, cucumber mint salsa, pumpkin seeds, and radish.

It made an excellent contrast to the Chogan, which was a spicy blend of vegan chorizo, pickled onions, cilantro, and salsa verde.

The chorizo was crafted from nuts and dates, but was surprisingly more redolent of its spices than sweetness. Both were served on house-made corn tortillas.

The real standout for us though was the Pescado, an entrée plate that featured tender, fresh white fish served in a light, lovely coconut sauce. Also on the plate: juicy, very fresh-tasting plantains, a small side salad, and rice.

Each of the components combined made a strong dish; the fish itself and its surprisingly sophisticated sauce was a true winner.

Kalaveras menu also included grilled skirt steak, grilled salmon and roasted chicken among the amply sized and well-presented entrée platter selections.

There were a trio of desserts on the menu and the restaurant gave us the opportunity to sample each of them.

My favorite was the light Suspiros, small fried donut balls stuffed with pastry cream, powdered sugar, and La Lechera condensed milk, with a drizzle of raspberry topping. They were perfect, and with nine per order, they would make a terrific shared finish to any meal.

Our server said the most popular sweet treat, however, was the Churro Sandwich. A thin, crisp fried churro pastry, coated in cinnamon sugar could barely contain the vanilla ice cream and topping of berry reduction in a large dish that was also bursting with flavor.

Cheesecake lovers would enjoy the Galleta Maria Cheesecake, featuring a creamy round of New York-style cheesecake, berry sauce, and whipped cream. Despite my usual yearning for chocolate as an ingredient in any dessert, the Suspiros would be more than worth upping my calorie intake any day.

Comfortable padded orange booths and chairs, and a cheerful but darkly romantic bar added to the restaurant’s ambiance, as did a smiling, velvet-sombrero-wearing skeleton by the door. Staff was warm, friendly, and efficient; the patio seating was a delightful option.

Kalaveras features a 3 to 7 p.m. Happy Hour Monday through Friday, discounted lunch specials Mon. - Fri. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a variety of daily specials such as Margarita Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Mezcal Wednesdays and Wine Thursdays.

Even better than the specials, at least for this night owl: the restaurant is open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. 

Kalaveras is located at 228 Avenue I in Redondo Beach.

For more information, call (424) 304-2111.

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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