The Clever Root

Spring 2018

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2 4 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t A VIBRANT CANTINA OFFERING seaside views just off the Pacific Coast Highway, the hacienda "estate" that is Tallula's offers Mexican comfort food and ingredient- driven cocktails to its sun-kissed patrons in Santa Monica, California. Those cocktails come courtesy of General Manager Mary Thompson, who worked alongside some of the most cutting-edge chefs in Southern California before joining up with the RC Family, a boutique restaurant group that includes Rustic Canyon, Milo & Olive, Cas- sia, Esters Wine Shop & Bar, Huckleberry Bakery & Café and Sweet Rose Creamery. At Tallula's, Thompson has curated a bar program that's both innovative and craft-motivated, choosing vintage-dated or small-production agave-based spirits for her menu. As expected for a Mexican eatery, ver- sions of the Margarita take center stage. "I like to push for recipes that are memorable," Thompson tells The Clever Root. "I imagine myself taking our customers on a tour of what's out there with agave spirits." Tallula's opened in May 2017 in a space last occu- pied by a Tex-Mex restaurant, but the pagoda exteri- ors date back to its origins as a Japanese eatery in the '80s. With its Southwestern-inspired color palette akin to a terra-cotta-and-turquoise sunset, the interior is now decorated with hand-embroidered wall hangings, vintage Mexican poster art, and hand-painted tiles. BEACHSIDE EATS In Living Color As General Manager at Tallula's in Santa Monica, CA, Mary Thompson culls housemade syrups, farmers market produce, and other fresh ingredients to use in her impressive list of Margaritas and Palomas. TALLULA'S BRINGS MODERN MEXICAN COMFORT FOOD TO SANTA MONICA by Meridith May / photos by Rick Poon Agave-based spirits aren't the only focus here: The Hibiscus Refresco combines sloe gin, prickly pear brandy, hibiscus agua fresca, and bitter Bruto Americano liqueur from St. George Spirits.

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