More than two years in the making, PLAYA, in the heart of Mill Valley, California is a modern indoor-outdoor restaurant destination encompassing a combined passion for Mexico’s cuisine and culture. Drawing inspiration from travels and the fresh, flavorful cuisine served on the playa, local Mill Valley residents and restaurateurs, Peter Schumacher, Bill and Vanessa Higgins, have developed a setting of casual sophistication that blends the best in locally sourced, organic and sustainable ingredients with a bar highlighting a carefully curated selection of exceptional tequilas and mezcals.
… blending the best in locally sourced, organic and sustainable ingredients with a bar highlighting exceptional tequilas and mezcals….
PLAYA’s farm-to-table menu reflects an elevated blend of technique and ingredients, resulting in a presentation that showcases the diversity of Mexican culinary creativity. Embracing an innovative, experimental approach, PLAYA’s Executive Chef Omar Huerta, a native of Jalisco, constructs a modern twist on traditional cuisine tapping into the vibrant mixture of the Country’s various regions and cultures. Using only the freshest, seasonal ingredients, Huerta strives to create dishes that are delicious, soulful and local, coaxing complex, diverse flavors and spice by incorporating native chilies into his moles and salsas.
Working from an open kitchen that features a wood-fired rotisserie, fueled by mesquite and almond wood, a made-to-order masa station with tortilla press, and custom molcajete (mortar and pestle) for the house made guacamoles and salsas, Huerta and his team prepare every dish onsite, by hand, to ensure authenticity. Offering a balanced selection from land and sea; PLAYA’s menu changes seasonally to coincide with the harvests of Marin’s farmers and local food purveyors. A nod to his heritage, Huerto includes his father’s proprietary Pico de Gallo recipe with radish and a puree of Chile de Arbol.
With veteran Bay Area mixologist Gabriel Bryant at the helm, PLAYA’s full bar offers a seasonal beverage program as vivid, flavorful and intricate as the food it accompanies. A student of agave distilling in both Jalisco and Oaxaca, Bryant has sourced with careful consideration more than 100 rare tequilas and mezcals from Mexico and South America. The artisanal spirits, each selected for their delicate flavor nuances, are paired with only the freshest ingredients traditional to Mexico – hibiscus, prickly pear, pineapple, cucumber, carrot, and beet – to create PLAYA’s hand-crafted, progressive cocktails. In-house juicing, paletas (flavored ices), tepache (pineapple fermentation), tinctures made from a variety of native chilies, and house made agave nectar syrup ensure that drinks are as fresh as they are flavorful.
PLAYA’s menu of signature cocktails with a modern twist include: Watermelon Fog – spiced watermelon tequila with lime-salt foam; Corazon de Maguey – house made mango-orange juice with mescal and a hibiscus-pomegranate paleta grenadine; and Pedro Conejo – house-made carrot juice with mezcal, fresh tarragon and cilantro salt.
The full bar also features a selection of Mexican beers and local craft brews on tap and in bottle; wines on tap include selections from local Northern California winemakers as well as South America. A selectively-sourced wine list to complement the menu features Proseccos, Muscats, Semillons, Riojas and Malbecs.