Michael Mina’s name is practically synonymous with San Francisco cuisine. With four restaurants in our modest seven-by-seven city — plus three more in the Bay Area and another 15 scattered throughout the country — he’s a culinary powerhouse. And before he introduces menu items to his various establishments, they’re honed and polished at The MINA Test Kitchen, an R&D culinary laboratory that offers five-course themed menus for $39 each night, with optional supplements.
After wowing diners with a coastal-Italian concept, “Postcard from La Costiera,” Mina heads south to Mexico. Having launched Wednesday, Aug. 23, Mi Almita is a collaboration with Houston’s James Beard Award-winning Chef Hugo Ortega, whose Xochi was named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Eater. Mi Almita, which means “my little soul” in Spanish, pays homage to the spirituality and tradition of Mexican cooking. The humble, traditional menu includes huitlasquites corn soup, ceviche trio sourced from the tidal pools of Fort Bragg, pozole verde with little neck clams, pulpo al carbón (or grilled octopus with sweet peppers and caramelized onions), and a tasting of house-made Mexican chocolate.
“I had the opportunity to dine at Hugo’s restaurants when I was in Houston earlier this year,” Mina says. “I was blown away by the hospitality and cuisine. The bold flavors and ingredients worked so well together, and everything was light and flavorful. I knew I wanted to find a way to work with Hugo.”
In keeping with the Mexican influence, the beverages highlight several varieties of agave spirits: mezcal, tequila, bacanora, and raicilla. Mezcal flights and tequilas paired with sangrita, wines from Mexico alongside California wines made by Mexican winemakers and vineyard managers, and an array of housemade cocktails made from seasonal ingredients round out the menu.
MINA Test Kitchen, 2120 Greenwich St., 415-310-8371, michaelmina.net/restaurants/san-francisco-bay-area/minatestkitchen/