Palmilla: Best of the Beach 2018 Tequila, Martini Bar
During Happy Hour on a recent Friday afternoon, a customer was sipping a cucumber-jalapeño martini made with Hendrick’s gin. She imbibed slowly, both out of caution for its potency and out of reverence for its taste.
“It’s delicious,” the woman pronounced.
“Delicious” takes on a whole new meaning inside Palmilla, an upscale Mexican restaurant that opened on Hermosa Beach’s Pier Plaza in fall 2011 and has been packed ever since. First-timers rave about the refined take on street food classics such as tacos and enchiladas. Repeat customers warn not to fill up on the warm tortillas and honey butter (although you should have at least one). Cutting through these pungent flavors, and stimulating appetites and conversation, are the restaurant’s signature cocktails.
There is a constantly updated list of margaritas. And for those who prefer it straight, bottles of tequila and mezcal in all shapes and sizes line the bar’s back wall. Some, like Don Julio 1942, are meant to be savored, not downed in a shot.
Owing to demand from South Bay clientele, tequila is just a starting point. Vodka and other liquors are liberally incorporated by Palmilla’s inventive bartenders.
The customer sipping the martini recalled how, when she came in the restaurant’s early days, the restaurant was at the leading edge of the cucumber-jalapeño margarita trend. Over time, the restaurant’s bartenders adapted it in a variety of ways, including the gin-based martini she was then enjoying.
“I don’t do well with tequila,” the woman said with a knowing smile.
“Ah, me too,” laughed another customer at the bar.
The two were surrounded by tequila, but nonetheless, they seemed thoroughly at home.
39 Pier Ave.
Runner-up, tequila bar: Coyote Cantina
531 N. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Runner-up, martini bar: Mangiamo
128 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
by Teri Marin