El Alto partner and chef Traci Des Jardins and chef de cuisine Robert Hurtado in the Los Altos restaurant on March 15. The restaurant announced its sudden closure Saturday. Photo by Magali Gauthier.
James Beard Award winning chef Traci Des Jardins’ California-Mexican restaurant el Alto has abruptly closed its doors nearly six months to the day since opening at State Street Market in downtown Los Altos.
“As of September 23, 2022, el Alto has ceased operations. Thank you to all that have supported the restaurant through this time, especially our wonderfully supportive guests and our staff,” a message posted to the restaurant’s website and Instagram page Saturday reads.
In an Instagram post Saturday, Des Jardins wrote, "Sadly, yesterday was our last service at @elaltolosaltos. It has been incredible to operate in Los Altos where the interest, excitement, and reception to the restaurant blew me away. It was a wonderful experience to again work alongside Chef Robert Hurtado, as well as the amazing kitchen and front-of-house staff that worked to bring this concept to life. I loved hearing the feedback from guests as we interacted in the dining room. At the end of the day, I'm incredibly proud and grateful to have been a part of this project."
State Street Market, which also houses a 20,000-square-foot food hall including restaurants from Michelin-starred chefs like Little Blue Door, a casual sister restaurant of Palo Alto’s Ettan, and Bao Bèi, a concept from former Maum chefs Meichih and Michael Kim, opened about a year ago. A representative from State Street Market declined to comment further on the closure.
Bon Appétit Management Company, a Palo Alto-based restaurant company, said it "has been honored to collaborate with Traci Des Jardins and Los Altos Community Investments on the el Alto project."
The Peninsula Foodist spoke with el Alto partner and chef Des Jardins and chef de cuisine Robert Hurtado before the restaurant’s highly anticipated opening March 24. Des Jardins told former Foodist Anthony Shu that if she could start her career over again, she “would have really focused on Mexican food from the very beginning and gone deep into Mexico to experience (the cuisine) firsthand.”
“You could go to both of the taquerias here (in downtown Los Altos), and they serve the same things,” Hurtado said in March. “There’s definitely a place for that. But I want people to be able to explore Mexican cuisine through a different lens; there’s more to Mexican food.”
The Los Altos restaurant featured a modern Mexican menu with dishes like King City Pink Beans refried in duck fact, an ode to Hurtado's grandmother, and the confit Liberty Duck leg with apricot mole, a tribute to Los Altos' stone fruit orchards.
Des Jardins closed the renowned San Francisco restaurant Jardinière in 2019 and her Ferry Building Mexican eatery Mijita a few months later. Des Jardins’ other restaurants, the Presidio’s Arguello and The Commissary, closed when the pandemic began. As of March, Des Jardins was involved with one other establishment, the Public House at Oracle Park.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.