"Cultura creates exquisite, Oaxacan-inspired dishes using local ingredients, all complemented by a thoughtfully curated Mezcal library. From their fall chile relleno with kabocha squash and walnut crema to their churros and fondue with sumac and grilled orange, every plate was delectable. I can’t recommend highly enough that you make reservations at Cultura for your time in Carmel-by-the-Sea."
"Our dinner at Cultura Comida y Bibida, a Mezcaleria serving modern Mexican cuisine, was particularly memorable for the inviting atmosphere, creative mezcal cocktails and unique menu."
Flight Network Magazine:
"Cultura is a must for food afficianados with a taste, or at least a curiosity, for the unique dishes coming out of Oaxaca, Mexico. The expert team at Cultura combined their love of Oaxacan cuisine with their own experience in this eclectic industry, creating a menu that offers a culinary thrill for those interested in trying something new and delicious.
With diverse menu selections like homemade mole, life changing guacamole, fried grasshoppers (don’t knock it till you try it!), and many other options that meet the needs of a variety of preferences, this is the place to go for an unforgettable edible adventure. And let’s not forget about the cocktails. An assortment of creative, tasty mescal-based drinks are sure to please those that enjoy one-of-a-kind beverages."
Mike Hale / The Grub Hunter: Forget the Michelin Guide, try these Peninsula restaurants /
"Run by former restaurant mates at high-end Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn, this hip, mezcal-soaked restaurant and bar in downtown Carmel focuses on the varied regional Mexican cuisine of Oaxaca."
San Fransisco Chronicle
LIFESTYLE // TRAVEL
Michael Bauer’s Top 12 Carmel restaurants
"Restaurants in Carmel have traditionally looked to France for inspiration. It’s not unlike what was going on in San Francisco two decades ago. While the scene has been slower to change, the shift is coming.
The latest indicator is Cultura Comida y Bebida, the beautifully envisioned Mexican restaurant that opened in mid-August, taking over the space of Jack London’s on Dolores between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
It was 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. Items such as butter lettuce and tomato salad with avocado and charred jalapeno vinaigrette display a sense of style that was a hallmark of Sierra Mar, where Estigoy was the executive sous chef. The salad is garnished with supremes of orange; fuchsia-colored pickled onions; yellow, orange and red tomatoes; watermelon radishes; and orange and gold nasturtium blossoms, creating a riot of color that follows through to the taste. Aside from the Oaxaca-inspired food, the restaurant specializes in mezcal, and its smoky essence is the base of many of the cocktails, including an exceptional margarita.
The decor also reflects their refined, organic approach. Two large stone tables on the patio have a fire pit in the center. Inside, the handsome mahogany box-beam ceiling from the previous restaurant remains. However, dark-colored walls, weathered wood tables subtly rubbed with red and green stain, and handsome black-and-white portraits along one wall lend a casual elegance to the bar and dining room..."