2014: The 10 Best list
2014 was another good year for La Comida Mexicana. It was celebrated in umpteen festivals, showered with prizes in Lima some deserved others less so. While La Roma remains the epicenter of degustación, other, previously less fashionable eating out colonias are vying for attention, namely Cuauhtemoc, north of Reforma which is fast turning into a dining destination. My favorites to open this year are listed below, in no particular order, as is a magnificent book which should be acquired by all. Buen provecho.
Carnívoro Asador Mexicano
Yucatán 138 (corner of Chiapa), Colonia Roma
You don’t have to be a beer-swilling carnivore to love Carnívoro Asador Mexicano because it’s not just a run of the mill steakhouse. It’s really a very good Mexican restaurant disguised as a steakhouse. The concept, though, isn’t gringo at all, it’s northern Mexican: Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, you know, the land of big hats, boots and sexy vaqueros. Here, two urban cowboys, Juan Pablo Ballesteros (of Limosneros fame) and Juan Carlos Canales, have decided to open a high quality beef-house in a sprawling, restored, turn-of-the-century Roma mansion, which includes a pleasant upstairs outdoor terrace. From the creative antojitos made with locally grown corn, perfectly done seafood, local brews and a well chosen wine list featuring many Baja vintages, there’s that much more to it. And the meat is very good as well. See the review
Zacatecas 173 between Monterrey and Tonalá, Roma
First we watched a macabre artificial limb store transform into Máximo Bistro, just about the best dining spot in the country. And now, chef Eduardo García AKA Lalo has opened his eponymous breakfast–cum casual lunch spot across the street.
Lalo!, set in the ground floor of a formerly stylish ‘50’s apartment building, is redone in the mid century retro mode that the clueless landlords of the building did their best to eradicate not long ago. Seating is at a huge communal butcher block table and ambience is cheerful and breezy. The food, from Tex/Mex breakfast classics to “Continental” light lunch is, well, simply “Lalo”. See my review
La Ahumadora – Mercado Roma
Querétaro 225, Roma
The uber-cool Mercado Roma opened this year to mixed reviews but it's doing SRO business anyway. There's some great eating going down inside the former dance hall's hallowed walls. Uruguayan born Chef Daniel Frydman presides over La Ahumadora. His all-seafood bistro produces superb dishes utilizing sea creatures fresh from the Pacific coast, sold right across the aisle. Pismo clams, generous and sweet, are simply prepared with a bit of lemon and sprightly guacamole or else lightly grilled. Ceviches are similarly done with a breezy touch, more Peruvian than Mexican in the brevity of their maceration, which highlights the freshness of the materia prima. La Ahumadora is the jewel in the Roma's crown. See review of the Mercado Roma
Presidente Masaryk 513, Polanco
We’ve been waiting for years for legendary Oaxacan chef Alejandro Ruiz to arrive in Chilangolandia. He’s taken over Patricia Quintana’s Izote spot and transformed it into a venue for his creative Oaxacan cooking in which he reproduces and tweaks southern classics with panache. The legendary moles are there, of course, but so are less usual ones, and tradition is always in the shadows.
Guanajuato 239, Roma
The transplanted staff of this new Portuguese bistro brings the hearty dishes of their homeland to the new world, with little compromise. Lusitano, whose name refers to the area’s Roman moniker, is an informal spot offering fine Portuguese cooking; it's both homey and creative. Portuguese, like all Iberian cuisine is unpretentious and relatively uncomplicated; it’s about basic ingredients simply combined and balanced. The carefully chosen menu combines classic traditions with creative interpretations - a whole section of the menu is devoted to bacalao. This venue, one of only two in the city, is by far the better. See the review
Colima 183, Roma
Open for a couple of years now, this cute Roma spot lagged until chef and provocateur Josefina Santacruz took over recently. She became enamored with food of the orient while living in New York and London and after traveling to India, China and Viet Nam, where she found that the best food was often found on the street or in markets, just like in Mexico. Santacruz shares her passion for these world treats with her fellow chilangos by lovingly interpreting such Asian classics as pad thai, siu mai and pho. Her venue is a great addition to our rather dire Asian food options. See my review
J&G Grill, Hotel St. Regis
Paseo de la Reforma 439, Colonia Cuauhtemoc
Don’t be misled by the designer brand name, the St. Regis’ chi chi J&G is all about the capable and creative hands of chef Maycoll Calderón and his food is very, very good. If you’re looking for high quality posh, you’ll find it here. Don your heels and don’t fail to order the avocado pizza.
Río Sena 87, Colonia Cuauhtemoc
This Mexi-luncheonette, though clad in 21st century hipster chic, is really an update of the classic all but vanished urban tortería of the mid-century 20th. A changing menu offers artisanal yet traditional tortas, served on house-made bolillos. They are just about the best in the city.
Panadería La Bohême
Querétaro 219, Roma
Mexico City is once again the “Paris of the New World” at this lovely patisserie-cum-boulangerie, situated by the entrance to Mercado Roma. Little tartes au citron or aux fraises are every bit as good as their Parisian counterparts as are baguettes and croissants. Packaging and décor are winningly retro and purchases are graciously delivered in appropriate cardboard boxes, not plastic.
Yucatan: Recipes From a Culinary Expedition
By David Sterling (University of Texas Press)
Diana Kennedy’s blurb, which graces the back of this exquisite new book, says it best: “I know of no other book in print today, or in the past for that matter, that explains so meticulously the ingredients and history of the foods of Yucatán.” I don’t either. Author David Sterling has done a magnificent job in every way. This is no mere cookbook. It is a work both scholarly but readable, informative and entertaining. It is a must for anyone with an interest in Mexican food, and in Mexico itself.
See my review in Zesterdaily
Not to be overlooked are these fine dining hot-spots which continue to do amazing work: Sud 777, Paxia, Casa Virginia, Kaah Siis, Limosneros, Rokai, Anatol, Mythos, and the ever wonderful Rosetta. And we anticipate the recently opened or soon to do so Busue, Paprika, and Hippodrome.
Last but not least, a grand prize, winner in all categories, goes to my favorite no-name taco stand, located at the southwest corner of Insurgentes and Sonora, Condesa (next to the juice stand, across from Los Sixties). After 9 p.m. and into the wee small hours, this purveyor of grilled meats does the best arrachera tacos this side of the Río Grande.
A note to my readers:
I have received a lot of feedback to this post, most of it positive, some less so. Good Food in Mexico City is based on my own research, augmented by that of an informal team of researchers whose judgments I respect. My opinions are not humble, but are educated and certainly subjective. I do not pretend to know the entire city, nor to have experienced each and every one of the over 40,000 eating establishments it houses. The preceding post is meant as homage to a handful of newer businesses that have caught my fancy this year, not as an all-inclusive or “fair” list. Many, not all, are 'high end' places. I also investigate and promote street food and humble fondas but these, for the most part, are ongoing affairs: the good ones do not open and close with regularity and so are not included herein – with exceptions. So please, dear reader, take this list lightly, as mere suggestion and not gospel truth.
Mexico City, December 31, 2014
The southern part of the city doesn't house many 'high end' establishments I find recommendable. An exception is Sud 777. Chef Edgar Nuñez' pretty venue features his creative cooking based on but not faithful to, Mexican and Spanish traditions. Blvd. de la Luz 777, Alvaro Obregon, Jardines del Pedregal. Tel. 5568 4777
Páprika (Marsella 61, Colonia Juarez) is chef and provocateur Josefina Santacruz' new venue for tastes from North Africa and beyond. DIshes are small and wallet-friendly, meant to be shared.
Pozolería de Moctezuma at (c/ Moctezuma 12, Col. Guerrero, near metro Garibaldi, closed Sunday) is in a funky old apartment building and has been hidden away there for 65 years. Ring the buzzer and enter for the best bowl of white or on Tues.,Thurs, & Sat., green. The tacos of lengua are phenomenal.
☻ Asian Food in el D.F.
☻ Shopping Gourmet
☻ Rosetta - Nearly Perfect
☻ Máximo Bistro
See: POSTS, above for 2008-2012
☻El Pinche Gringo
☻The Last of the Cafes de Chinos
☻Lalo! Máximo's chef's new venture
☻Bug Eyed: Eating Insects in the city
☻Livorno & La Locanda
☻The Tamal Queens
☻Sesame - where pan Asian pans out
☻ Mercado Roma: where to eat
☻Mercado Roma - shopping
☻Morelia en Boca 2014
☻Best Cocktails part I
☻Best Cocktails part II
☻Chowzter's London awards
☻ Lusitano - Portuguese
☻Dominique is now a bistro
☻ Estiatorio Mythos
☻ Taco Hopping: el Centro
☻The Best of 2013
☻De Mar a Mar
☻Yuban great Oaxacan Cooking
☻ Acapulco puts on a party
☻Rokai brings a little bit of Tokyo...
☻Angelopolitano: poblano Condesa
☻Mushroom season in Mexico
☻Touring the world's best barbacoa
☻World view: Anatol takes the cake
☻Dim Sum at Jing Teng
☻ Food trucks in Mexico City, ...
☻Celebrating July 4th in Mexico
☻Lincoln stays mid-century
☻ “Best taco in Mexico"
☻Close to home: Maximo Bistrot
☻On the Town: Tapeando
☻Q&A With Máximo's Chef
☻The Best Thing I Ate This Week:
☻Tacos de Pescado
☻And the Angels Sing: Turtux
☻The Women of Mexican Cuisine
☻The Feria de Tamales -Coyoacán