When the time came to name his restaurant, Regalito Rosticeria's owner and chef, Thomas Peña, thought back to days spent sitting at the kitchen counter, watching his mother and grandmother carefully prepare family meals. The memory of that little gift, or regalito, fueled his passion as he traveled Mexico researching cooking techniques and perfected his pastry skills at the California Culinary Academy. Today, Thomas gifts his guests with free-range rotisserie chicken, Niman Ranch meats, and authentic Mexican dishes made with as many local, organic, and sustainable ingredients as possible. Every Tuesday, the staff slow-roasts half a free-range hog—humanely raised with plenty of space and free WiFi—for its Pigalito menu, which features tacos de carnitas and other street-food-inspired fare.
The restaurant's open kitchen recalls Thomas's memories of watching his family cook, as well as the makeshift kitchens in Mexico City's markets. A wooden diner counter is all that separates the chefs and their guests as they stir mole sauces, stuff chili relleno with mexican squash, and chop up salsa fresca. Vibrant artwork accents the eatery's yellow-and-chocolate walls, and lemons and limes piled atop the counter's glass divider add extra bursts of color.