In Portuguese, “Dia de Campo” is a phrase that means “field day”—and trust us, you’ll definitely be having one at this Mexican tapas restaurant in Hermosa Beach. From the decor to the crowd to the food and drink, this place is a party.
Dia de Campo is one of five restaurants in Tin Vuong and Jed Sanford‘s restaurant empire, which also includes the new Steak and Whisky, gastropub Abigail, Culver City’s WildCraft Pizza and Manhattan Beach’s Little Sister. We can only describe its ambiance as “fun”—it has a surf lodge feel in a sexy way thanks to its mood lighting, leather and wooden furniture and open windows which peak out at the Hermosa Pier just beyond.
So what’s on the menu? Given that the menu is shareable (one dish can feed “dos or tres amigos”) you’ll want to order up lots of little bites of Mexican/seafood-inspired fare.
Start with the guacamole before moving on to small yet delicious bites like the chocolate duck quesadillas with Oxacan cheese, salsa negra and tamarind; chorizo stuffed dates with sofrito and cilantro salad; and delightful scallops with mole, apple poblano salad, corn pudding and platanos.
We can’t leave a meal without oysters, and the selection here—three varieties were on offer—worked perfectly for us. From there you might want to stay fresh with ceviche such as the yellowfin tuna with crispy kale, guacamole and habanero aioli or the hamachi and uni with green papaya, mango, ponzu, baby cilantro and smoked pasilla.
If you still have room before tacos or burritos, go for veggies like the flavorful roasted Beet salad with epazote, pickled carrots, quinoa, farmers cheese, rocoto and lime or the Mexican street corn (on the cob) with parm, lime and chili mayo.
There are chimichangas, empanadas, tostadas and pork belly on offer here as well as much larger shareable dishes like lobster and whole market fish, but if you’re in the mood to gab, drink and be merry, we’d close with one of six kinds of tacos from “La Taqueria”—carne asada, fish, carnitas, pollo, red braised lamb or crispy shrimp—before dessert. On the sweet side, Dia de Campo offers churros (to die for), a Mexican chocolate cookie with salted caramel and a coconut cake with spiced guava jam.
We would be remiss to forget the extensive cocktail menu. In addition to a lengthy wine and beer list, you’ll find a plethora of libations here that will make you just wish you were sitting on the white sandy beaches of the Mexican Riviera. Among the best: The Claremont—a crisp and refreshing blend of cucumber infused vodka, chartreuse, lime and cilantro; La Leona, a sweet and smoky cocktail of Maestro Dobel, peach, lemon and mescal; the elegant Rubi: tequila blanco, grapefruit, lemon and home spice; and the De Sandia, a summery punch of vodka, watermelon and citrus.
Our final tips. One: you MUST try the housemade hot sauce and Two: on Wednesdays, you’ll find live acoustic music from 5-7 p.m., which definitely gets the eatery (and you and a result) into its happy hour best.
All photos courtesy of Dia De Campo