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Inside Puesto, Santa Clara’s $8 Million Taco Temple

The Bay Area’s first branch of the popular SD spot opens this week

Patricia Chang

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Northern California will get its first taste of Puesto’s popular tacos on blue corn tortillas this Thursday, May 17, when the La Jolla-founded chain opens in the Bay Area.

The first local Puesto arrives at 2752 Augustine Drive in Santa Clara, with another bound for Concord down the line. And while Puesto might be named for a market stall, the new peninsula restaurant looks and feels more like the whole market, with 9,000 square feet of space.

To build the new Santa Clara space cost a small Silicon Valley fortune, with an $8 million design by San Diego’s Paul Basile. The resulting space has room for more than 300 diners, with designs featuring industrial materials that resemble the chain’s other locations in La Jolla, Irvine, and San Diego. There, Puesto is on Eater San Diego’s list of 38 essential restaurants.

Outside the new Puesto at 2752 Augustine Drive in Santa Clara
Inside the 300-plus seat dining room

Brothers Eric and Alan Adler and their cousin Isidoro Lombrozo opened the first Puesto in 2012. Mexico City native Luisteen Gonzalez is executive chef and partner alongside executive creative chef Katy Smith. Existing Puesto locations are known for upping the taco ante, serving options ranging from carnitas and chicken al pastor (with hibiscus and chipotle tinga) to filet mignon and Maine lobster tacos — all on blue corn tortillas made with masa from popular organic purveyor Kernel of Truth. Special to the new location’s menu are oyster tacos, made with Drake’s Bay oysters, tomatillo “mignonette” salsa, oyster and habanero crema, radish, cilantro, and serrano.

Some unique design features of the new Puesto include spray painted murals by SF artist Chor Boogie and a hydraulic bar with custom liquor shelving. Think of that as a booze carousel that descends to meet bartenders at the push of a button, bearing plenty of tequila for Puesto’s margaritas. Their self-declared “perfect” version is made with blue agave Reposado tequila, lime, and agave. Beyond lots of those and other cocktails, there’s Valle de Guadalupe wine and Mexican microbrews to drink.

After tacos, pastry chef Jessica Scott serves desserts like “ChocoFlan Piñata Cake” covered in cajeta. And to get in on the local flavor, she’s working with Humphrey Slocombe on a summer corn and strawberry jam ice cream. In that same collaborative vein, Puesto Santa Clara brewed a custom cantaloupe beer with Woods Beer Co., inspired by Puesto’s agua fresca.

The hydraulic bar in action

Dessert spread at Puesto
Filet mignon taco
Booth seating in the restaurant

Inside Puesto’s 9,000-square-foot space
More seating inside Puesto
The space was designed by Paul Basile
A hallway like space through the restaurant
Leather booth seating
And more leather booth seating

Starting Thursday, May 17, Puesto is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

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