Mexico City has always been about revolutionary chefs, reinventing, innovating and changing the way we eat. And the quality of Mexican food has never been more apparent. It’s no coincidence that Mexico’s food scene is one of the most recognized, and that the discipline required to prepare it is quickly rising to an art form.
While the capital is the still the place where the most renowned of chefs will emerge, it’s a crowded field. Many arrive from other outposts of the Republic, but they’re here in the city to rise to the top with some of the innovative (and tasty) new takes on centuries of Mexican tradition.
Certainly, the city’s top restaurants are still serving: Pujol, Quintonil, Sud 777, Dulce Patria, Rosetta, and Biko. But today, we’re giving special attention to some of the youngest and newest and most revolutionary chefs whose daring restaurants are starting to really shine.
Youth is, perhaps, synonymous with creativity. Cuevas has sampled and drawn from all kinds of cuisines including thoroughly local and distant international dishes and ingredients. Along the way, he acquired experience sufficient to opening “Zanaya,” the new restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel. While Cuevas pays special connection with the Mexican coast, and Nayarit in particular, he’s born and raised Chilango. Even while infusing the entire output of Zanaya with Pacific Coast seafood and spirit he admires, there’s no shortage of adventurous spirit with a menu that always surprises.
Originally from La Palma in the Canary Islands, Martin’s cooking vocation took him quickly to Spain. While the work he was doing there caught the attention of the Michelin raters, his aspiration to truly advance in the world led him eventually to Mexico. Earning his stripes at a few places in and around the Zona Rosa, he’s today the executive chef at Kaye, at Alfonso Reyes 108, Hipódromo Condesa
As Revolutionary Chefs go, try this one: first an anthropologist and then a lawyer? Téllez ended up studying at the French Culinary School in Paris and then traveled to Baja California to learn about local agriculture and the ingredients endemic to the region and the country. Now well regarded for the Merotoro restaurant in Condesa, his more recent project is Amaya in Colonia Juarez. Here the emphasis is on both “Rich food and rare wines” in a menu that boasts continual high-energy from both Spanish and Mexican influences. And the wine list is exceptional.
Among young chefs who’ve begun their careers at Pujol, Ríos has taken off with a bang bigger than most. Á de Acento in Condesa offers sophisticated eating and an itinerant of seasonal ingredients. Things change fast. But every quarter of the year, and sometimes every day is met by a wealth of thoughtful, spirit-pleasing food, accompanied by some of the cities best wines and spirits.
Having studied Economics and Political Science, Tellez claims she knew even then that she wanted to be a chef. With a strong background in Italian cuisine, she’s worked as an expert in food pairings, and the combinations are memorable. Now devoting most of her time to the “José Guadalupe y María Guadalupe, Platos de Cuchara” at the Mercado Roma, Tellez is not only among the best known in the market but truly innovative with the concept of the classic pozole.
A Venezuelan who’s lived in too many countries to count, Maycoll arrived in Mexico City to work at the J & G Grill, at the St. Regis Hotel. Within a little more of the year, he opened his own restaurant; Huset in Roma Norte. Always inspired by a country spirit, the emphasis here is on freshness and camaraderie. Widely praised as one of the city’s most original, innovative dishes are set down, almost picnic-style on the restaurant’s truly grand patio.
Image above: swallowmagazine.com
2016 was a banner year, not just for good eats and good coffee, but for seeing some of our old favorites really come into their own. Hopefully not lost in all of the rave reviews were these ten top-notch new restaurants – perhaps the best New Restaurants of the past year. As we see it, these are the ones who are just getting going.
Photo above: Mia Domenicca
A Mediterranean corner in Colonia Roma, Mia Domenicca always feels like cooking for friends. Priding themselves on a kitchen that turns out truly memorable dishes, the place is casual and friendly, but the menu should leave no doubt that you’ve got some pretty sophisticated friends.
Taking the concept of “comfort food” to some considerable extreme, La Roma is not just good for the soul. With considerable attitude, it’s not really a biker kind of place (though it looks like it). Specializing in burgers, plenty of their sandwiches will meet the expectations of higher-browed clientele, and deeply satisfying, some of their heavier dishes will beg to be revisited.
Chef Jair Téllez’s next evolutionary step after winning acclaim for Merotoro and Laja (in the Valley of Guadalupe), Amaya’s menu is still more sophisticated. A fusion of Spanish and Mexican cuisine, the wine (raro or not) is also carefully selected for outstanding results.
The new place at the Four Seasons, Zenaya is seafood to write home about. Starting with traditional recipes from Nayarit, Chef Tonatiuh Cuevas traveled to the coast to soak up the seasoning of the beach. Quality and freshness have been well noted by some of the city’s most vocal citics.
Mexico City’s most beloved Japanese chef brings a much-needed update to the concept of Mexican-Japanese food. With an extremely traditional menu, you get the hyper-simple technique and the full blown Hiroshi treatment for every dish. This is not one to miss.
A pure vegetable-based cuisine for everyone, every dish is created with organic and artisanal ingredients. Soups, salads, and hamburgers all attest to the fact that vegan can be not just edible, but even really good, and without mammoth portions.
Innovative, high-quality dishes, in an unpretentious environment, Lucas focuses on seasonal everything, and so everything is fresh. With a nice mix of cocktails, for Roma Norte this is a decidedly sophisticated corner of the night.
Bastardo, like the child of none-too-respectable parents, is nothing if not creative. Chef Jorge Avedaño latest venture brings always unusual ingredients to the table and the results are something like a mix of down-home and high society. Among the best new restaurants, this is not one to underestimate.
Granada’s not just a bunch of overpriced condos for girls from Toluca. The second Granada entry in this year’s list, is a fusion of Mediterranean, Asian, American and Spanish food all from Valencian chef Ricard Camarena. Eclectic is a ood first word to describe it, but the flavors and technique somehow all make sense here – if nowhere else.
For daily delights inspired by a traditional bakery, you shouldn’t have to climb Mount Everest. But that’s where you’ll find this new and rather exclusive bakery and coffee shop with a pretty good menu tacked on to keep it innovative. Contemporary Mexican food comes in ample servings to make it one of the best new restaurants of the past year. And the terrace, for lunch is one reward for venturing out to Lomas.
Mole, the word comes from the Nahuatl, molli, is always among the most emblematic of Mexican dishes. There are multiple varieties of moles, each prepared with different chiles and spices. This mixture is then thickened with corn, vegetables and sometimes with a meat stock. And then it’s set to stew.
The interesting thing about mole is that over the decades it’s continued to evolve. More and more chefs and restaurants strive to include a mole on their menus, with original dishes inspired by nothing but that original dark sauce. Dishes today range from the most traditional to the most modern and extravagent. And they always bear something of the original identity in their complex characters and flavors.
Among the most popular is “mole poblano.” But as there are so many versions of moles in the city, the best moles in Mexico City are often far and away from those concocted originally in Puebla, or Oaxaca or Guerrero. From the pot, they come red, black or sometimes green, but for all the best moles in Mexico City start with the list below.
One of the city’s true classics, Azul is at home in an impressive old building and prides itself on a rather high Mexican gastronomy. The house mole is rather on the traditional side, but for the adventurous, there’s also a sweet version served with duck.
With very fair prices, La Poblanita’s portions are very generous, and the mole enchiladas, are not to be forgotten. Overall, a traditional and rather “poblano” style menu should fill up even the most finicky of guests.
A favorite since the 1940s, Los Panchos has been recommended by world-renowned chef, Enrique Olvera. One of the city’s most varied menus, the house mole is one of the star dishes, and always comes out not just sweet, but exotic, multi-layered and complicated.
Always esoteric, El Cardenal has been one of the best Centro restaurants for as long as anyone can remember. Most famous for the breakfasts, at lunchtime all the niceties go away and the real guns come out. A chicken breast stuffed goat cheese ought to get you going but the red mole is easily among the best moles in Mexico City.
Easily one of the most recognized eateries in the city, Pujol usually makes lists of the best in all Latin America. Cuisine is distinctly Mexican while the atmosphere is sophisticated and minimalist. Among the most popular of dishes is the “mole madre/mole nuevo,” made through a fusion of ancestral and modern techniques.
Priding itself on traditional and contemporary Poblano recipes, many of the moles are from carefully secreted recipes, each with a unique flavor. Order the chilaquiles with mole or the guava mole, both of which are exceptional.
El Familiar – Milpa Alta
San Pedro Actopan may be practically the world capital of mole and the majority of inhabitants dedicate themselves in one or another to the production of the sauce. El Familiar offers one particular mole with walnuts (mole de nuez), which goes spectacularly with almost anything. But the three-mole enchiladas offer an amazing sampler for those unwilling to commit.