Where to Citrus & Salt, a coastal Mexican restaurant in the Back Bay.
What for Spicy food from Jason Santos. You might know the amiable blue-haired chef from Abby Lane, Back Bay Harry’s, Blue Inc., Buttermilk & Bourbon — or from his TV stint on “Hell’s Kitchen.” His bright mop top is visible in the kitchen.
The scene Midnight in Miami — or at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The room is done in pastel pink and green with pink and gold stools, skeleton murals, mid-century modern booths (very “Valley of the Dolls”), and café lights strung from the ceiling. Venture to the back room, if you dare, for a moodier experience — their “Garden of Santeria” is a dim hideaway with candles, chandeliers, and curved plush purple chairs that look like surreal marshmallows. The place is packed on a Wednesday night. Nobody appears to be older than 35. There is a man, call him Ubiquitous Restaurant Man, because some permutation of him appears at every swanky new restaurant, who wears a suit and rushes back and forth, urgently, possibly wired for sound, and looks like he is handling security for a GQ ad.
What you’re eating Smallish Mexican plates with seafood twists: crab tostadas with sliced avocado; beer-battered fish tacos with green tomato salsa and cracked pepper aioli; mussels steamed in tequila; blowfish tails with almond jam. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, there are arroz con pollo croquettes with chicken fat mayo, duck confit flautas, and nachos dripping with melted goat cheese. For dessert, Dole whip: pineapple sorbet topped with crushed pineapple and, if you’re feeling frisky, rum.
Care for a drink? Santos has a sense of humor. Tequila-focused cocktails have names like #Unfollow (mezcal and blackberry — maybe this has something to do with how you’ll act after one?); I Didn’t Text You, Tequila Did (and so did coconut puree); and Take Your Pants Off (and how could you not, with tequila, lime, and pink grapefruit fizz?).
Overheard Industry chatter; sweet talk; dietary woes. “The people who did this mural did the one for Fat Baby,” says a guy in a Yellow Door Taqueria sweatshirt, cupping a delicate glass of white wine in his mitts. “I’m not a big communal table guy,” says a handsome fellow, settling into a stool at a communal table. “My life has gone downhill since I stopped eating gluten,” a woman tells her companion as she picks at her plate. A fellow squires his paramour to a table. “Can I get guacamole on the side with my nachos? Just tell Jason I’m here,” he says to a server a wink. “We can get guacamole?” his date asks. “Yes, sweetheart, we can,” he purrs.
142 Berkeley St., Boston, 833-324-8787, www.chefjasonsantos.comKara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.