La Urbana Is the Fanciest Thing to Hit Divis in Maybe Ever
Gorgeous, pricey, full of mezcal and replacing a hippie gardening store called Plant It Earth, La Urbana is going to divide Divis like Bi-Rite never could.
Pete Kane The stylish bar at the new La Urbana on Divis.
Let's start with the "full of mezcal" part. There is a mezcal julep and a floral mezcal and cacao concoction, plus the martini-esque "Acapulco - Manila," inspired by a trade route from the 1700s, that is made with mezcal agave de Cortés and sake. It may hit you like a Pan Am Clipper to the head.
Moving down the painstakingly thought-out list, there are margaritas, a tequila-absinthe Don Gregorio with lots of fruity syrups and liqueurs that can be served for three in a volcano, a Manhattan made with mole bitters, and even an non-alcoholic smoothie that pays respect to the former tenant with optional wheatgrass. Wow.
For dinner, start with a refreshing coctel de callos de hacha (diver scallop, tomato gelée, avocado and cilantro) or a huarache de pato (duck leg, mayocoba bean spread and queso fresco) before moving on to huachinango al huitlacoche (red snapper with cauliflower, radish and that delicious corn smut that is, yes, a fungus). At $26, it's not exactly a typical Western Addition price point and suddenly, Marin is a suburb of Mexico City, but this is quality dining.
Additionally, La Urbana is slick. Mexican tiles, a bar of rickety-looking distressed wooden shelving and a curiously semi-open kitchen are all most intriguing. The faux-patio gets natural light by day, while the plate glass windows mean fine people-watching as Divisadero attempts to overtake Valencia in eye candy.
Pete Kane A mural on La Urbana's exterior, lit up with LED lights.
In L.A.'s Silver Lake, there is a restaurant that calls itself an "Urban Taco Fabricator," a designation which seems to say, "No Latinos were consulted in the formation of this taqueria." People will grumble in a similar vein about La Urbana and gentrification, not knowing its pedigree. Being a rare example of Mexican cuisine that's also a serious splurge doesn't affect its authenticity one bit.
La Urbana, 661 Divisadero St., (415) 440-4500.