Kutsi Cocina, the downtown SanTana restaurant that had the unenviable task of following Memphis at the Santora, is finally finding its groove. They dropped the Luna part of their original name, and the pan-Mexican dishes are finally founding their alta cocina voice. Crowds are starting to pop up. More importantly, whoever's running things now is smart with their choice of Joaquin Valdovinos manning the bar Fridays and Saturdays. Valdovinos, of course, was our choice for OC's best bartender in 2013, and has seen his national star rise for his anti-Donald Trump campaign with Ilegal Mezcal. But OC missed him un chingo, so it's great to have the Anaheim native back, even on a part-time basis.
The classic Valdovinos cocktail reflects his training and Mexi heritage. He did a borracho raspado recently, strong on the rum and the jamaica. Another one saw Ilegal and a chai tea reduction; still another is his famous tepache-based India Maria. It really doesn't matter what Joaquin makes; just drink it, ask for a “Donald es Un Pendejo” sticker, and enjoy. And tell the Kutsi people to hire him full-time—just saying!
Kutsi Cocina, 201 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 564-1616; www.kutsirestaurant.com