Citrus & Salt, Chef Jason Santos’ newest culinary expedition, opened in Boston’s Back Bay Monday night. Inside, the white-washed brick walls, strings of patio lights, and rows of desert plants in ceramic pots relocate guests right into the sights, sounds and smells of the Baja Coast.
“It’s Mexican, but it’s not predictable Mexican,” Santos said in an interview.
Citrus & Salt’s menu is an experiment in “playful, reimagined coastal cuisine,” according to the restaurant’s press release.
With a raw bar and
a variety of small plates, diners can try anything from pan-fried blowfish tails with almond jam and gooseberry salsa to crab and cactus chowder to warm agave-glazed biscuits with cinnamon butter and spicy poblano and pepperjack spread.
Santos’ grilled corn is a messy, addictive take on a classic Mexican street food. It’s covered in crushed hot Cheetos, slathered in mayonnaise and sprinkled with shredded cotija cheese.
After the wild success of his restaurant Buttermilk & Bourbon last year, Santos decided to open Citrus & Salt as a “sister” restaurant. He described the fundamentals of the two restaurants as similar — both utilizing small plate menus and similar branding techniques. Yet, though the restaurants share the same vibe, they have “completely different concepts” when it comes to cuisine, Santos said.
With Buttermilk & Bourbon, Santos celebrated his love of New Orleans comfort food. Citrus & Salt’s Mexican cuisine, on the other hand, is an endeavor in authenticity, with Santos’ own creative spin on the textures and techniques incorporated into the dishes.
“I don’t want to be like every other generic Mexican restaurant,” Santos said, which is why guests won’t find chips and salsa on the menu. “One of my strengths as a chef is my creativity, so I like to put my little spin on things.”