Keller has presented the Napa Valley with a casual taqueria in La Calenda. There isn’t a restaurant the famed Chef has opened that I haven’t visited and to hear he is now cooking up my favorite type of cuisine in our own backyard had me running to visit the new location.
It is said that when Keller had the opportunity to take over a local fixture, Hurley’s Restaurant when its owner decided to retire, that he thought the location was beautiful but he didn’t know what to do with it. After thinking about what the town needed, he considered a restaurant with either Asian or Mexican influence. Yountville already had Italian, French and American restaurants, including Mr. Keller’s French Laundry, but Asian and Mexican were missing. He decided on Mexican, a cuisine he has never explored, and contacted Susana Trilling, a food writer who has a cooking school and inn in Oaxaca, Mexico.
It turned out that her son, Kaelin Ulrich Trilling, who was born and raised in Oaxaca, was a chef and had even been doing consulting in New York. “We saw eye-to-eye,” Mr. Keller said. Mr. Trilling, 26, got the job and traveled throughout Mexico before opening the restaurant. Though his menu is fairly simple, it includes various regional specialties, like an assortment of moles, often made from chiles and spices imported from Mexico. Tortillas are made from corn ground and nixtamalized in-house. “We’re making them by hand; we expect to hand-press 700 to 800 a day,” he said. Tacos feature braised short-rib barbacoa, roasted pork “al pastor” and slow-cooked pork carnitas. Marinated wood-grilled fish and wood-grilled skirt steak are also offered. The restaurant is decorated with pieces from Mexican artisans. “We have to respect the traditions,” Mr. Trilling said. The name is that of a celebratory parade and feast frequently held in Oaxaca. Enjoy some photos from our visit.
La Calenda in Yountville
Visit La Calenda
Visit La Calenda at 6518 Washington Street in Yountville. You may find an hour wait as it’s first come, first serve between 5-11p, Tuesday through Saturday.
Pro Tip: Head to the new Restoration Hardware for a cocktail while you wait for your table. You’ll be glad you did!