La Urbana Brings Creative Mexican Cocktails and Cooking to San Francisco This July

Images by Brian Wong Photography

Working with a joint team from Mexico and San Francisco, local entrepreneur, Eduardo Rallo, partners with Mexican architect/ restauranteur Juan Garduño, to open the new modern Mexican restaurant, La Urbana. The restaurant is slated for a mid-July 2013 debut on the corner of Divisadero and Grove Streets in the vibrant Divisadero Corridor of San Francisco.  La Urbana will be open daily for dinner and the space will also feature the Mezcaleria Urbana – a mezcal tasting room. In early Fall, the team will open the Mercado Urbano  on its adjacent space that will serve Mexican street food  starting at lunch time and by night, Mercado Urbano will open as a lounge for guests to enjoy cocktails and bar bites. Mercado Urbano will also feature a parklet.

“We are thrilled to be creating not only a restaurant, but a space where people can hang out and feel like they have been transported  to what  contemporary Mexico City offers today right in the heart of the Divisadero Corridor,” commented Juan Garduño, Partner and Architect/Designer for La Urbana. “La Urbana is a multi-dimensional venture in creative cocktails, sophisticated cantina-style Mexican food and cutting-edge design that truly draws on the best of urban Mexico City combined with the incredible local ingredients and talent of the Bay Area.”
The concept is a modern take based on the traditional Mexican cantinas,  which are gathering places for locals looking for a drink and a bite to eat. Mexico City’s new cuisine is an interesting mix of contemporary representation and  techniquescombined with classical dishes, which La Urbana will represent through its food and beverage offerings. La Urbana will feature an innovative cocktail program centered on artisan mezcal.  The menu will focus on reinterpreting Mexican traditions of craft food and drink within the sophisticated food culture of San Francisco.


Do you have a cocktail drink which represents the merging of both cities (Mexico and San Francisco)? Tell us about how you came up with this drink.

“The menu is composed of 12 cocktails and is a merge of both cities, the use of local and fresh ingredients. Mexico is expressed both through the ingredients and concepts representing Mexican traditions. The fun and enjoyment of Mexico is part of the drinks as well as in San Francisco, the joy of living that is presented in daily activities. San Francisco and Mexico merge in a subtle manner as today’s globalized era brings this cities closer together.” –Lucas Ranzuglia, Bar Manager.

What excites you most about the opening of La Urbana and the introduction of Creative Mexican Cocktails to the neighborhood?

“The possibility of being able to represent a country that has so much to offer not only in its culinary roots but also what is the new reinterpretation of it being part of this interesting time in its cultural and culinary history.” – Juan Garduno, Partner/Architect

“We are taking a stand that incorporates cultural traditions, new culinary ideas and techniques, as well as local ingredients to provide multiple experiences on the richness of Mexico food and drinks. Mexico has gone through a very interesting stage of creativity and pride on its culture and tradition and we are trying to bring a little sample of it to one of the greatest neighborhoods and cities that appreciate quality and freshness. In addition, Mezcal is one of the oldest spirits in Mexico that as of now has not been able to have the platform to demonstrate all the amazing attributes and complexities that we plan to do.” – Eduardo Rallo, Partner

How do you see urban-Mexican dishes evolving in the next year for San Francisco?

“I think the answer is always progression. The question I ask myself is, what is the dish? And how can I make it better…life long pursuit I guess.” – Julio Aguilera, Chef


Behind the Kitchen – The Chefs
Chef Benjamin Klein and Chef de Cuisine Julio Aguilera join the forces of practical experience and creative collaboration to bring a fresh menu of urban-Mexican dishes to life.  San Francisco-native Chef Benjamin Klein brings a high level of operations knowledge to the culinary team, having managed every station in the kitchen throughout his decade long career as a chef on the islands of Hawaii.  Mexican-American Chef de Cuisine Julio Aguilera brings his diverse culinary training and deep knowledge of traditional Mexican cooking to the table.  Having worked at such notable restaurants as San Francisco’s Waterbar and Saison, Chef Aguilera is known for his imaginative approach to ingredient-driven dishes.  Together the two will collaborate on a menu that will implement and execute the inventive vision of innovative Mexican cuisine in San Francisco.
The Bar
The bar program will be lead by world-class bartender, Lucas Ranzuglia, whose 12 plus years of experience bartending, consulting, and educating have taken him from Buenos Aires to Mexico City to London to Tokyo to Ibiza and now to San Francisco. He has also visited distilleries of all the major spirit categories. The flavor-driven bar at La Urbana will highlight hand-crafted cocktails using the finest Mexican mezcales and spirits. Lucas has a broad in-depth experience of the culture of mezcal production, having traveled within Mexico to experience production first hand and has been Mexico’s ambassador for Tequila Jose Cuervo.  In addition to the La Urbana Margarita made with lime essential oils, cocktails will include the Acapulco-Manila, a mezcal-based take on the dry martini, and the Mezcal & Cacao, marrying mezcal with Oaxacan cacao crafted in the French style.  The full bar will also feature a wine and beer list.
La Urbana
The culinary team has researched and traveled throughout Mexico to select recipes that will accentuate the high quality of locally available ingredients.  The cantina-style offerings will pay homage to creative Mexican cooking. The menu will emphasize Mexico’s rich culinary heritage through an ingredient-focused approach that highlights the vast array of fresh, local and organic flavors.  Mexican cantina classics will be reimagined with sophisticated small plate offerings that reflect the flavors of Mexico City through Northern Californian ingredients, with a touch of Spanish influence.  Menu offerings will range fromKumamoto Oysters “La Playa” with cucumber-serrano froth, to the Carnitas Torta served on a fresh-baked brioche with pickled red onions, chili garlic aioli and goat’s milk Gouda,  to a Manila Clam Menudo with cabbage tostadas, toasted hominy and fresh radish.  La Urbana will be open for dinner daily from 5pm – 1am.
Mezcaleria Urbana
The neighboring Mezcaleria Urbana will sell over 30 different varieties of artisanal mezcal from Mexico, and will offer educational and tasting components as well. Mezcaleria Urbana will be open daily from 5pm – 1am and in early fall, will open during the day, providing a place for people to purchase an array of mezcal.
Mercado Urbano
Slated to open early fall, by day, the Mercado Urbano will serve casual street fare including handmade tortillas, tacos, and small bites.  By night, the garage doors will close and the Mercado Urbano will transform into a sophisticated lounge area where guests can enjoy cocktails from La Urbana’s bar.


Designed by architect Juan Garduño of Garduño Arquitectos, a Mexico and San Francisco-based architecture firm, the design of La Urbana reflects the spirit of cutting-edge urban Mexico City.  The design elements include a mix of new and old, simple elements repurposed and recreated in Mexico by contemporary artists, representing an understated view of what modern Mexican architecture can offer. The L-shaped bar acts as a focal point for the space and the design concept represents Mexico City’s diversity as well as the forward-looking concepts Mexico’s creative minds are crafting today in the emerging globalized subculture, moving beyond clichés known as typical Mexican design.
While under construction, the La Urbana space features a mural by San Francisco-based artist Zio Ziegler.  Well known for his urban murals, Ziegler’s street art can be viewed throughout San Francisco.  His work emphasizes the subjective interpretations of the viewer, and his piece for La Urbana was in part inspired by the process of human thought.

Sneak Preview of La Urbana Restaurant at Jiun Ho de Jia


La Urbana, a new Mexican restaurant that focuses on Creative Mexican Cocktails and Cooking, brings a cutting-edge concept from Mexico City to San Francisco through contemporary urban design, an innovative food and cocktail program with artisanal Mezcals and fresh local ingredients.  Located at 661 Divisadero Street at Grove, La Urbana features casual, convivial dining by day and sophisticated cocktails and food by night.  La Urbana is open daily from 5pm to 1am, the Mezcaleria Urbana is open from 5pm to 1am, and Mercado Urbano will open in early fall and be open daily from 11am to 1am. For more information visit and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.