Conceived by Sarah Kabat-Marcy, who was the sommelier and cellar master of the Post Ranch Inn, and John Cox, the lauded chef at Sierra Mar, both in Big Sur. As might be expected from their background, they have a meticulous approach.
The chef, Michelle Estigoy, channels the food of her Mexican grandmother, and Cox informs the menu with knowledge he gained growing up in New Mexico. Even though Cultura is casual, a fine-dining quality infuses every aspect of the restaurant. One of the exceptional dishes on my visit was a whole steelhead trout presented as if it were swimming, on a pad of cilantro rice garnished with wedges of lime. It was one of the best preparations of fish I’ve seen. Another compelling main course is brick-pressed chicken, with an array of charred chiles and corn pudding.
While you can get exceptional street tacos — on my visit it was chicken tinga — there’s also a squash-blossom quesadilla thick with gooey Mexican cheese; local halibut ceviche with habanero, coconut water and lime; and mushroom empanadas with green mole.