The JT Insider Food Guide: Mexico
Top chef Enrique Olvera of Mexico City’s world renowned restaurant Pujol, gives us his tips on how to experience the best of this foodie nation.
Mexico is undoubtedly a nation with an exceptional culinary culture that reflects its Mesoamerican and European influence, from popular dishes like burritos and ceviche, to the national dish of Mole; a savoury chocolate and chilli sauce. Top chef Enrique Olvera – behind Mexico City’s restaurant Pujol, which came in at number three in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants San Pellegrino awards 2014, and number 17 in the World’s Best – gives us his tips on how to experience the best of Mexico’s phenomenal cuisine.
Food of the nation
‘Tortillas. You find them everywhere and we eat them all the time. What I love the most about tortillas is that you can eat anything from around the world with them. One of the most amazing things about Mexican food is its variety. In fact, there is no single definition of Mexican food. We have many different cuisines and you’ll find different products in each region, as well as traditions, ways of eating and the approach to cooking.’
‘You can never have enough of Mexican food because the gastronomy is so vast and rich. You can experience the taste of Mexico, little by little, from stop to stop. Mexico City, as the capital, is just the place to try the cuisine, but you have a huge country full of flavours and expressions to visit. Every visitor should go to Oaxaca to understand our food better and enjoy the city more deeply. Eating as much as you can is the best way to learn about the cuisine.’
Eating in Mexico City
‘The intimacy that connects people, the food and the city is what makes Mexico City’s dining scene special. We eat all the time and in every corner, in the way that this big capital city lets us, between traffic and chaos but also beauty. Mexico City is always hungry, eating everyday on each of its streets.’
Where you’d take a friend
‘Nicos. Few restaurants are as good as Nicos.’ [This restaurant takes pride in using top quality local producers and traditional Mexican recipes.]
Nicos, Av. Cuitláhuac 3102, Col. Clavería Deleg. Azcapotzalco, Mexico City.
‘Polanco, where there are many restaurants that give a particular life to the area. I also go to San Rafael, where my grandfather used to take me to San Cosme market. The neighbourhood is growing now. It’s becoming cooler and more alternative, with new cafes and small cute places.’
Latest food trend
‘There’s now a strong trend here for food trucks.’
Eating in Oaxaca
Authentically local dining experience
‘Eating at Itanoní in Oaxaca is amazing for this.’ [This exceptional family run dining spot focuses on promoting the diversity and heritage of Mexican cuisine.]
Itanoní Tortillería y Antojería, Belisario Domínguez 513, Col. Reforma, Oaxaca.
A stellar setting
‘Try the restaurant at Casa Oaxaca with food by chef Alex Ruiz.’ [The restaurant at this boutique hotel uses organic local ingredients to create Oaxacan dishes, elevated to a fine dining experience, with a peaceful courtyard to enjoy it in.]
Casa Oaxaca, García Vigil 407, Centro Oaxaca.
A chef worth checking out
‘Look out for chef Benito Molina of Restaurante Manzanilla in Ensenada of Baja California, Alex Ruiz of Casa Oaxaca, and chef Pablo Salas of the restaurant Amaranta in Toluca. In Mexico City there’s Elena Reygadas of Rosetta [named Latin America’s Best female Chef of 2014], and Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil. Try the restaurant Laja with chef Jair Tellez in Baja California and the restaurant Pangea with chef Guillermo González Berinstain in Monterrey.’
Restaurante Manzanilla, Recinto Portuario, Teniente Azueta 139, Ensenada. Casa Oaxaca, García Vigil 407, Centro Oaxaca. Amaranta, Francisco Murguía 402, esq. Matamoros, Col. Universidad, Toluca. Rosetta, Colima 166, Roma Norte, Mexico City. Quintonil, Newton 55, Col. Polanco, Mexico City. Laja, Carretera Ensenada-Tecate Km. 83, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California. Pangea, Bosques del Valle 110-20, Col. Bosques del San Pedro Garza Garcia.
The restaurant Pujol images were taken by Adam Goldberg and the photo of Enrique Olvera was taken by Ana Lorenzana.