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La Brasa has Motown on the sound track

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff/Boston Globe

Where to La Brasa, a spacious, well-lighted grill on East Somerville's Broadway.

What for Wood-fired small plates, entrees, and cocktails from former L'Espalier chef Daniel Bojorquez. Soon, there will be an adjacent food market and coffee shop.

The scene The Apple Store goes to summer camp. The decor is pared-down warehouse (exposed brick, metal light fixtures, beamed ceilings, long wooden tables), soundtracked by Motown brass. Fire leaps from the grill in the open kitchen, and a whiff of char fills the air. There are lots of stylish young couples with messenger bags and statement eyewear, many with stylish young children in tow. A toddler boogies tableside, wagging his fork to a James Brown beat. A hostess with a bobby-pinned ponytail sashays through in skinny jeans. A dapper bartender — handsome and he knows it — swivels his hips as he shakes a martini. "I say a little prayer for you," Dionne Warwick coos.

What you're eating Spicy, wood-fired snacks and shareable plates, many by way of Mexico and South America: lamb shank pozole in red chile broth, pork tacos dressed with salsa verde and chile de arbol, oysters on the half shell, perhaps a rib roast with cilantro chimichurri. Utensils, including chopsticks, arrive in silver mugs.


The tacos de carnitas (slow roasted shoulder, salsa verde, and chile de arbol) at La Brasa.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/Boston Globe

Care for a drink? A frisky cocktail list highlights spice. A Blind Pew Fizz unites pisco, Cardamaro, citrus, egg, cream, coffee, and cardamom, and the Norma Larragoiti stars hatch-chile-infused Campari. Bartenders are bubbly and bright-eyed, and sturdy bar stools resemble saddles — very anatomically correct, and cozy.

Overheard Recollections of career detours and praise for the cook. A woman who resembles "Clue"-era Eileen Brennan, newsboy cap askew, remarks on the quality of the food. "Our chef is a genius, and I'm not ashamed to say it!" glows a bartender. "I used to be in the restaurant industry back in D.C., before your time. Now I'm in law," a paunchy fellow informs his date as he settles into a martini. An older woman in sensible jeans, socks, and sandals enters beaming. "You can sit at the bar," smiles a hostess. "I won't be mad!" A bespectacled young man introduces his father to a waiter, and Dad tries not to upend the utensil mug standing up. "I'm here at last!" he announces, then sits back down. A gangly man rubs his palms and leans toward his date. "This is going to be a wonderful evening," he says.


La Brasa, 124 Broadway, Somerville, 617-764-1412,

Kara Baskin can be reached at