Plascencia, who calls his cooking style "Cali-Baja," points out that the Baja peninsula not only produces top-caliber seafood — like the firm, sweet Baja scallops he served in an bracing and spicy aguachile dish — but also is becoming known for its vineyards and olive orchards. After a difficult period of violence and reduced tourism because of Mexico's drug cartels, the chef says, the region has been revitalized, and his restaurants, including several in Tijuana and Ensenada and the new Bracero Cocina de Raiz in San Diego, are flourishing. Bracero is up for a James Beard Foundation award for Best New Restaurant this year.
Although the dishes that Plascencia presented were part of a one-day affair, Query and Fader's experiences on their trip — which Fader calls "life-changing" — have rubbed off on Lola's menu, and several new dishes are available on the spring menu. You won't see those firm Baja scallops, which had to be flown in the night before for Plascencia's lunch and dinner, but there are plenty of other options to choose from. Keep reading for more photos of the Javier Plascencia lunch.