- Reporters Desk
By Gretchen Williams, Travel and Cuisine Writer
Downtown San Pedro is in the midst of a conflict in which everybody wins!
Little Italy is in the works on lower 6th Street, promising a fragrant neighborhood with the recent firing up of Buono’s Pizzeria’s new pizza oven, recently delivered from Italy. The Pedro stalwart of excellent pizza, Buono’s is the pride of the downtown at the corner of 6th and Centre.
A-1 Imports is bound for 6th Street as well, bringing decades of importing tradition to the neighborhood. Other restaurant activity is proceeding apace on 7th Street, where the Cutri family is working the old La Conga site. This clan of restaurateurs plans to bring Raffaello’s original to anchor the south side of the street, as Michael’s Tuscany Room, the elegant party space, shines on the north.
Trani’s Ristorante chefs, Jim and his son, Dustin, are down to the studs on the pier at 22nd Street, renovating the old Canetti’s building to be home to a new place, where they plan to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. All great news for San Pedro!
The fortunate conflict? San Pedro has also become taco central, which transforms Tuesday into the best day of the week in downtown. The wonderful new Kalaveras opened recently and has quickly become the place to meet for tacos and beer.
Previously Neil’s, Kalavaras has brought new life to 5th Street. Bright and colorful, the new interior murals pay homage to Day of the Dead images of skulls and skeletons, swirling stunning colors in huge designs, all to splendid effect. Kalaveras is built for fun, and it delivers. Monday could be lifted with $25 pitchers of cold margaritas, but Taco Tuesday is the day!
Kalaveras has $2.50 tacos all day, including choices like carne asada, chicharron, carnitas, barbacoa, fish, veggie chorizo and camote (sweet potato). You’re invited to try a few. All are artfully presented, garnished with curls of carrot, radish and cilantro, dressed with salsa and avocado. Kalaveras also offers a house-made veggie chorizo with walnuts and lots of other goodies. The sweet potato is also an interesting taco with good texture and flavor, crowned with salsa. Every taco is beautiful and tastes like heaven — a winning combination for $2.50.
Wednesday offers Mezcal cocktails for $7 from lunchtime on, and Thursday is cerveza city as all draft beer is 50 percent off. Kalaveras has an imaginative and delicious menu, drawing from authentic Mexican cuisine, injected with fun here in California.
Kalaveras is a limited chain with other locations in Whittier, Montebello, Bellflower and Redondo Beach. Look for festive mariachi bands. Kalaveras is always happy — just ask about their drink and snack specials.
Kalaveras, 383 W. 5th St., San Pedro
Conrad’s Mexican Grill
Conrad’s is the downtown secret, gaining huge word of mouth and social media reputation, especially for the vegan set. Conrad and his talented group are creating splendid mole, luscious guacamole, delightful ceviche, handmade chile rellenos and homemade salsa, but his true fame is due to his imaginative veggie and vegan menu, a first in the downtown area. Absolutely fantastic are the corn and mushroom tacos, a blessing to the taco genre but brilliant for vegan and omnivore alike. Veggie empanadas are lovely, crispy, fragrant, and Conrad’s legendary salsa is natural complement. Conrad’s cozy location, previously home to Beach City Grill for over 30 years, is now the home of awesome tacos and so much more.
Conrad’s Mexican Grill, 376 W. 6th St., San Pedro
Come to the Marseille of L.A. in the heart of the harbor at the Marina Café.
Every day has a great special at Marina Café and the view of the pulsing harbor at work is worth the drive to the end of Peninsula Road in Wilmington. Friday is Fish Taco and Beer day and this is the deal of the week, maybe the year. Two tacos packed with delicate fried fish, cabbage and a bit of onion, salsa and a frosty Tecate- out the door for $12.50. It does not get better than this! Miss Sherry is proud to host the best Friday Happy Hour with the house band Sonador, featuring Carla Dominguez. Venture to the Marina Café for the best fish tacos in the port, a solid value with a spectacular view, mellow music and cold brew.
Marina Café, 720 Peninsula Road, Wilmington