Lalo! : Máximo´s chef does it again
Who would have thought it. The dowdy corner of Zacatecas and Tonalá, has become ground zero on the D.F. gastronomic pilgrimage circuit. First we watched a macabre artificial limb store morph 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 ‘50’s apartment building, is redone in the currently modish mid-century retro style that the clueless landlords of the building did their best to eradicate not long before. Floors of black and white mosaic and blond wood add a light touch to the otherwise cavernous space. Seating is at one huge communal butcher block table, and the kitchen is open. The tireless Lalo himself presides until lunchtime when he crosses the street to rule the original roost.
The breakfast menu offers an astutely planned combination of Euro, Mex and American classic breakfast plates. Any Francophile will be happy with the classic croque madames because all bread is baked in house, and eggs, greens and just about everything else is farmed nearby and as organic as possible. One of my favorite starters at Máximo is the quintessential poached egg with asparagus and hollandaise. Here it is refashioned as a breakfast special, 1 egg scrambled, its mate poached, bread New England hearty. Another winner is the eggs with lardo, cebollín and gruyere. Lardo, scary as it sounds, is nothing more than a type of bacon, and here it lends a salty smokiness to the proceedings. Be it known that all the preserved meats are made in-house.
French toast, while pleasant, leans toward the sugary and the portion is lean – this dish could use tweaking. But breads and sweet rolls are buttery and are whisked out of hidden ovens straight to the table.
For those craving something sturdier, a classic pork in green sauce is beautifully presented with baby verdolagas (purslane). On weekends, a suckling pig is roasted for tacos.
Costs reflect the artisanal work so don’t balk at the $200 pesos breakfast tab. It’s worth it.
There are too many new and very good options for simple but upscale lunches in the Roma area. Between Mercado Roma and a baker's dozen of young chef-run places to have opened in the last six months. Lalo, in spite of a host of stiff competition, comes out on top.
The lunch menu combines Italian trattoria with American classics. Pizzas are refined and delicious; if their crusts were a tad more crisp at the edges they'd give Roberta's in Brooklyn a run for their money. But who can resist a pizza topped with lechón or brocolini and bechamel?
The pasta selection is astutely chosen, from everybody's favorite bolognese to a less often seen tagliatelle negro with calamar.
Despite fierce rivalry from neighbors, Lalo's 'fancy' sandwiches come out on top. From a tender roast beef - I've never before had a decent one in Mexico - to a recent special, succulent and heady pulled pork, these one dish wonders are truly soul-satisfying. And it almost goes without saying that the requisite burger is top notch.
Simple main dishes are comforting:
baked meat balls, grilled fish with mashed potatoes, grilled cheese with roast tomatoes (bread baked on premises). What's not to like? Lunch will cost $200-300 pesos; plates are generous and shareable.
Lalo is one of our best chefs and his casual spot is at the top of my list and should be at the top of yours.
Zacatecas 173 between Monterrey and Tonalá, directly across from Máximo Bistro, between Monterrey and Tonalá. It opens at 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday, closed Monday
Relevant and recent posts:
La Consentida, located in the middle of Roma's Mercado Medellín offers excellent burritos, a rarity in the city. Thin oversize flour tortillas, smeared with beans, are filled with a choice of carne asada, pastor, longaniza or even tripe and sprinkled with onions and finally daubed with crema. While not exactly cloud-light, these are nothing like the overstuffed bombs north of the border.
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.
Warung Makan, Mexico City's first and only Indonesian restaurant offers a reasonable comida in Roma Nte.: Puebla 341 between Cozumel & Guadalajar; Open Monday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
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