The Best of 2013 - Mexico stays home
This was a great year for Good Food in Mexico City, in many ways. New trends in the city are decidedly Mexi-centric. The most successful new places to open this year have been variations on regional Mexican cuisine. Young chefs continue their journey homeward, packaging classic Mexican cooking for the 21st century public: grandma puts on a mod outfit and turns out even better fare than she did before.That’s not to say that our city doesn’t continue to experiment and acknowledge its inter-nationality.
So without further ado, I present my “best” list for 2013
Bringing back the classics:
1, 2, 3, 4 and 5:
Five outstanding venues for regional and traditional Mexican fare opened their doors this year.
Angelopolitano does very traditional Poblano cooking. The trappings are contemporary, plating ‘nice’ but recipes are pure abuela. And the chile en nogada they did during the coresponding season was textbook perfect.
Yuban, the new temple of Oaxacan regional cooking in Roma Norte may look like a trendy Marais boite, but the talented young chef does wonders with recipes meticulously culled from the provincial experts.
Margarita Salinas Carillo is the Hilary Clinton of the local gastronomic scene. She writes, lectures and advocates as well as cooks. She practices what she preaches and produced some of the best traditional Mexican food in town in Turtux, her San Angel eatery. Unfortunately, as of January 2014, she has left Turtux. We will anxiously await her reappearance in another venue.
Pacific coast style sea food was never fresher, lighter or smarter than at Zona Rosa’s De Mar a Mar. That’s because the menu was designed by kid wonder Eduardo García, chef of Máximo Bistro.
DF’s street food tends toward top-heavy carnivorous fare. So it’s with open arms that the city has received a new wave of Baja style fish taco places. Rodrigo Malvido is a trained chef so he adds a modern touch to his tacos at la Roma’s Tres Galeones Taquería de Puerto.
Restaurante Kaah Siis deconstructs the Mexican kitchen, as others have tried to do with varying degrees of success. But they don’t stray too far from the melody, you can still walk out humming the tunes. The food is eminently likable.
From foreign shores:
Some of the best sushi I’ve ever eaten was right here, 10,000 miles from the nearest Japanese market.
Rokai, situated on a quiet street in the formerly gastronomically sparse Colonia Cuauhtemoc, is a venue for master chef Hiroshi Kawahito’s fine-tuned cooking. An occasional Mexican ingredient is laid on you, as it should be.
Pedro Martín, the Canarian chef has opened Capote, an unpretentiously cool bar at the end of Alvaro Obregón with a few tables in and out (which are these days quite difficult to procure). The menu is all very smart tapas.
The chef of Polanco chic-spot Anatole is an Italo-gringo, so much of his menu is pure Italian and done extraordinarily well. But then there’s a pastrami sandwich, meat house-made. It should please even the most discerning fan of N.Y. appetizing.
Last but certainly not least, Chowzter.com has, in its Latin American fast feast awards, honored the venerable El Huequito, purveyor of tacos al pastor, with a trophy for best taco in Mexico. They deserve it.
On the less happy news front, revered chef Patricia Quintana closed her Izote in 2013 – she will continue her good work promoting our cuisine.
And a couple of high-falutin’ Polanco eateries made it to world’s best lists that may not deserve such meretricious praise. Perhaps some laurel-resting is taking place at Biko, which can treat its well-heeled customers like cattle and serve embarrassingly bad food. And Quintonil falls into the depths of mediocrity when its young Pujol-trained chef isn’t home. He’s just not ready to leave the kitchen. "Best, shmest". The jury deliberates...
Happy eating in 2014!
*Latitude, corner of Guana-juato & Mérida in la Roma, is set in a gorgeous Art Nouveau apartment building; their duck tacos are winners.
* The Mercado del 100, our organic/local agora: Saturday at Alejandro Dumas 125, near Masaryk, Polanco, from 11-4, and Sunday at Plaza del Lanzador, Orizaba near Antonio M. Anza, Roma, 9:30-2:30
* El Habenerito, at the corner of Coahuila & Manzanillo in Roma, is a tiny hole-in-the-wall that offers some of the best Yucatecan food in town.