Citra Bar & Kitchen

Where the Zest of Life Meets the Art of Cooking

Citra’s Instagram page is vibrant, to say the very least. Mouthwatering, exotic, tempting. All would suffice both online and more importantly, in person, when describing the culinary journey upon which esteemed chef Michele Bailey takes her guests.

With over 25 years in the hospitality industry, including time at the Ritz-Carlton and her own gourmet business, Chef Bailey brings a wealth of global flavors and sustainable cooking practices to the menu at Citra Bar & Kitchen – the crown jewel of Santa Ana’s Hotel Zessa.

Capturing the tastes straight out of her grandmother’s kitchen in Jamaica, through the Caribbean to Bali, and on to Southern California’s own local Santa Ana cuisine, Chef Bailey’s inventive dishes boast a curated mixture of flavors, textures and visual appeal for even the most discriminate of palates.

The Art of the Sip

My husband and I started a recent elevated evening out with friends by indulging in Citra’s handcrafted cocktails and mocktails. Each was a playful, colorful masterpiece of mixology.

The Hibiscus Cooler (Absolut Vodka, Hibiscus tea, Lavender-Lemon syrup and edible glitter) and the signature Citra-Fashioned (Jefferson’s Bourbon, Bulleit Rye, Demarara, Spiced and Orange Bitters and orange peel served over black ice) were big hits at our table.

My new fave mocktail? The Santa Ana Breeze – a super light and refreshing concoction of Ritual Agave Spirit, lime, cucumber, mint and simple syrup.

Edible Mosaic

From starters to main courses, each dishes is artfully plated and tantalizingly flavored – from the jerk wings (think authentic Jamaican spices and mango sauce) to the Santa Ana salad (the perfect combination of greens, corn, radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, chile dusted pepitas, Cotija and champagne-honey dressing).

For entrees, there are classics like the Citra Cheeseburger and the Prime New York Strip, but we wanted to lean into Chef’s particularly inspired dishes.

As such, we had our work cut out for us in deciding between the array of culinary creations influenced with South of the Border flair. The Barbacoa Torta arrived as a mouthwatering braised beef, avocado, tomato, cabbage slaw, cilantro-lime vinaigrette and Jack cheese while the Tacos de Nopalitos were a deliciously unique spin enhanced with mole sauce, radish, cilantro, queso fresco, avocado and crema served with cilantro lime rice and beans.

Absolutely worth writing home about (and making a return visit) was the standout Chicken a la Brasa – a tender, juicy citrus marinated half chicken paired with cilantro-lime rice and Aji Verde sauce.

Visit Citra and I’m sure you’ll agree – the overall ambiance, energy and menu are clearly a labor of love for Chef Bailey and her team with the goal of creating a dining experience where “the zest of life meets the art of cooking.”

201 E. MacArthur Blvd.
(in the Hotel Zessa)
Santa Ana
(714) 825-3333
HotelZessa.com

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