If you asked me what was the most that I liked about Mexico, the answer would be very precise and concise: its culture. I do not believe that there is a more proud Hispanic American country. Mexico is a country where the people are very deeply connected to their roots. In each dish, in each tortilla and in each bite, you can feel the tradition of their ancestors, the nostalgia of the food prepared by the grandmothers and the combination of native ingredients grown by their own people.
This mixture of components has made this country one of the epicenters of gastronomy worldwide. One of the great promoters of this Mexican culinary movement has been Chef Enrique Olivera and his restaurant Pujols. It is currently ranked as the 4th best restaurant in all of Latin America and is # 20 worldwide. So the first mandatory stop after getting off the plane was this gastronomic temple. The tasting menu revolves around a dish, the mole. This dish is the hallmark of the restaurant and modern Mexican cuisine. The plate has two different parts of mole, but with particular interpretations. What this means is that it has a new mole (fresh of the day) and an old mole (at that time it was 1,555 days old) which has been continuously renewed using the same base and seasonal ingredients. It is one of those unique dishes that you have to try once in your life.
One of the most traditional Mexican things you can do is to start the day with a plate of ‘chilaquiles’. These are corn tortillas in the form of stir-fried chips mix with a sauce of green or red chilies, topped with ‘queso fresco’ and cream, with a side of mashed black beans. The combination of the crunchy chips, spicy sauce and salty cheese make this dish the perfect one to start a new day. Even though I had a heavy breakfast, midway through the day it was snack time, so I went to Churrería El Moro. This ‘churreria’ has been serving foodies in Mexico City for over 80 years with their homemade ‘churros’, bathed in a combination of sugars and each one ready to be dipped in the thick dark hot chocolate that’s grown locally.
After a day of exploration through the historic streets of CDMX, there is no better way than ending up in one of the best restaurants in all of Latin America and the favorite of the locals, Máximo Bistrot. Here Chef Eduardo García, combines French cooking techniques with purely Mexican ingredients and the final result is spectacularly delicious. Each dish had its own personality, attitude and particularity; it is so good that you won’t find the right words to describe it.
A visit to Mexico would not be complete without going to a traditional ‘taquería’. In the neighborhood of La Condesa there is a small native franchise that possibly makes one of the best tacos al pastor in the world, El Tizoncito. Each taco is made to order with the right mixture of ingredients in the most precise quantities. It’s an experience on its own. The place does not say much, but every single bite is poetry in motion, with a little of hot sauce. After going here and try their tacos, no ‘taqueria’ will ever be the same.
They say that you should always leave the best for last. And Chef Jorge Vallejo’s Quitonil restaurant was definitely the cherry on top. This restaurant has consistently been one of the best in the world and has reached the #12 position (2016), making it the best restaurant in all of Mexico. Chef Vallejo’s tasting menu has a little over 10 courses, where he managed to elevate native products, such as ‘nopal’ (cactus) and ‘escomoles’ (ant eggs), to their maximum splendor, creating a mariachi party on the palate. Can’t wait to go back!
Without a doubt, Mexico City has a unique charm and a combination of flavors and colors like few countries in the universe. Its culture explodes in every corner of the nation, its people smile as big as a taco, its streets are full of life and its history continues to be told through its cuisine.
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