ON THE VIBRANT stretch of Hillcrest between 10th and Vermont, the Cohn Restaurant Group recently opened a culinary collective, including Bo-beau kitchen + caché and Tacos Libertad. The main restaurant—Bo-beau kitchen—serves French bistro and comfort food set in an eclectic, bohemian-chic space. Tacos Libertad, located next door, is a for-charity, gourmet taqueria that fronts caché, an intimate speakeasy.
The menu at Bo-beau kitchen + caché has some similarities to its other locations, like the escargot, shell-on and piled up in a warm bath of butter, garlic and parsley. These delicate bites pair perfectly with chilled sparkling wine or the Green Beast, a crisp cocktail infused with herbaceous absinthe, cucumber and lime. The warm frisée and smoked pear salad, unique to the Hillcrest location, is a savory mound of bitter greens, 90-day aged blue cheese and slices of Bosc pear that have been smoked with applewood. Candied walnuts sprinkled about the dish offer moments of sweetness against the intense smokiness of the fruit and cheese.
For a main course, you must order the moules with bacon lardons. A sizable mound of clattering mussels arrives at the table in an enamel pot with bits of whole grain mustard and tarragon clinging to the jet black shells. The mussels are tender; the bacon is crisp; and the tangy, ocean-infused broth below is pure gold. Sopping is required with slices of French bread or the accompanying rosemary-scented fries. Meanwhile, Bo-beau’s scallops are soft, supple and perched upon a luscious bed of pancetta risotto. Did we mention they’re also seared in brown butter? Thin batons of green apple offer tart contrast while chopped hazelnuts provide warm, golden crunch.
French desserts are always a treat, and the ones at Bo-beau do not disappoint. Wedges of brûléed lemon bar are paired with dark blackberry sauce, salted honey crumble, Chantilly cream and glistening strands of candied lemon peel. The brioche bread pudding, infused with white and dark chocolate, sits in a pool of vanilla crème anglaise flecked with ground candied walnuts. Wash them down with a frothy cappuccino.
If you’d prefer to finish your meal with a cocktail instead of sugar, make your way to the back of Libertad, where you’ll find the secret entrance to caché, a dimly lit speakeasy filled with romance and antiquity. Guests imbibe in cozy corners while bartenders shake up theatrics to a captive barside audience. Crafted by Cervantes Magaña, the cocktail program at caché is sophisticated and daring with whimsy throughout.
Served in a pineapple-shaped tiki glass, the Party Boî is a sultry mix of Jamaican white rum, tequila, Aperol, pineapple gomme, lime and allspice. You’ll get fresh tropics with each sip followed by the intense complexity of the rum. Love Thy Neighbor is a bourbon cocktail, rich with black cherry liqueur, orange bitters and a mix of woodsy amaros. The drink takes on velvety notes of vanilla and caramel as a faceted gem of hand-cut ice slowly melts. Prepared with housemade pistachio milk, the Pistachio Milk Punch pairs pisco and arak with white cocoa, vanilla and angostura bitters. This pale green libation is rich and creamy, despite being dairy-free. Pistachio milk is just one of the many housemade products at caché that add a personal touch to each drink.
Finally, located next to Bo-beau kitchen, Libertad is managed by the same team but is completely different conceptually. This late-night, gourmet taqueria is San Diego’s first for-charity restaurant. Each month, Libertad donates profits—a minimum of $3,000—to a different local charity carefully selected by an independent group.
Flavors at Libertad are equally as exciting as the restaurant’s commitment to social responsibility. Tender octopus, charred on a wood-fire grill, is served on a handmade corn tortilla with cilantro aji crema, Oaxaca cheese, avocado, cilantro and lime. Libertad’s signature taco pairs succulent pork belly with sweet potato, cilantro aji crema and a rustic tomato salsa. The Shrimp La Foresta taco piles tempura shrimp on a flour tortilla with pico de gallo, lime and a fiery habanero mayo.
Whether whiling away the hours with good libations at caché, indulging in a gourmet feast at Bo-beau kitchen or taking the fiesta to philanthropic new heights, Cohn Restaurant Group’s latest endeavors remind us why they’re here to stay. Good luck trying just one.
BO-BEAU KITCHEN + CACHÉ
1027 University Ave., Hillcrest, 619.481.5033
Tues.-Wed., 4-9pm; Thu.-Sat., 4-10pm; Sun., 4-9pm
Appetizers: $7-$17; entrees: $11-$27; desserts: $9
1023 University Ave., Hillcrest, 619.481.5035
Tues., 4pm-12am; Wed.-Sat., 4pm-2:30am; Sun., 2pm-2:30am
Tacos: $3.50-$4.50; sides: $1.50-$7