I’d like to share with you a few highlights from a recent trip to Mexico City, the world’s largest Spanish-speaking city, in what I hope will become a series documenting Mexico’s variegated cuisines.
But before we dive in, we might want to consider…
“The Vaccine.” What an unusually timely name for a restaurant. Though, I’d say for eating out on the town, washing up with soap with suffice.
OK, let’s start with two examples of comida callejera, or street food.
Green chorizo, what?! Yes, chorizo verde was something I only discovered at a brunch buffet two years ago in the Mexican capital. Hailing from the city of Toluca in the state of Mexico (the latter of which surrounds Mexico City on three sides), chorizo verde consists of pork, and mix of herbs, spices, and chilies. Standard chorizo – the reddish one given a smokiness by the cayenne pepper (pimentón) – is quite filling, so the green version allows one to…eat even more. That’s my experience, anyway!
Chorizo verde is not one of the more common street food options, but keep a look out for it if you want an herbal, slightly lighter take on its Iberian cousin.
Having consumed just two tacos for the day, I was still feeling peckish. Enter, one of the best food stalls I’ve seen in Mexico City, nay anywhere, in the Colonia Juárez district.
It’s easy to get distracted by the deliciousness surrounding you in a place like Mexico, yet even in that lofty position, there exist stand-outs:
On the comal – a flat griddle (historically made of clay) used for centuries in Mexico -these three chefs had chorizo, campechano (a mix of beef and pork of various cuts), suadero (fried beef), carnitas (shredded pork shoulder braised in its own fat), something akin to a burger, papas (potatoes), and nopales, or cactus. What really sold me was the “fixins’ bar” of condiments– guajillo salsa, tomatillo salsa, beans, avocado tomatillo salsa, guacamole (!), pickled carrots, onions and cilantro, and a bevy of Veracruz limes. Wow.
What did I order?
Two chorizo tacos with melted queso para asar (grilling cheese), potatoes, and onions, and a plate of the fun stuff. Naturally, by the time I was finished chowing everything down, I had two more plates of salsa, and three more tacos.
Time for a drink break.
Nami, ola in Spanish, means wave. It’s also the name of the first brand of sake produced on Mexican soil, in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa. Although the brewery, called Sakecul, produces three types of sake – junmai (純米 – pure rice without added alcohol/sugar), junmai ginjou (吟醸 – highly milled rice), and junmai daiginjou (大吟醸 – very highly milled rice, usually considered the top-tier of sake) – they also produce a beer called Haiku. Nami was founded in September 2016, and can be found throughout major Mexican cities.
I sample the junmai and the daiginjou at Hiyoko, a modern yakitori restaurant in what has become the capital’s de facto Japanese barrio (neighborhood).
To top off my first review of Mexico City eats, I bring you la Señora Torres (named after the restaurant owner):
Basically, I was searching in Spanish for popular restaurants in Mexico City, and came across Mi Compa Chava (My Pal Chava), a relative newcomer in the chic Roma Norte section of town. (link in Spanish) It’s a seafood restaurant focusing on fresh catches from Sinaloa, the same state where the sake originated.
It’s also the home of that unbelievable tower (torre coincidentally means “tower” in Spanish) of seafood, as shown above and below…
The edible skyscraper had layers of octopus, raw shrimp, cooked shrimp, cucumber, yellow fin tuna, red onion, avocado, and callo de hacha (scallops). Upon serving the tower, the waiter poured a blend of lime juice, charred tomatoes, Morita chilies, and a house salsa over it, returning the seafood back “to the sea.” Actually, that’s just my take on things.
The dish was a delight to conquer, and showed how fresh each ingredient could taste, in spite of being a couple of hours flight time from the Sinaloa port of Los Mochis (Mexico City is, after all the home of the largest seafood market in the country, and the largest wholesale food market in the world).
What’s that you say? You want to see more of Mexican gastronomy for your subsequent visit?
I think that can be arranged.
Paul Benscher says
I am based in London but have travelled to Mexico City with my Mexican born wife for over 20 years The range and quality of restaurants cannot been beating, from the simple roadside food stalls to the 5* silver service. I can honestly say you cannot get better anywhere. The Mexicans love there food
Thanks for your comment, Paul! Indeed, I believe Mexico is a brilliant country for eating; what’s cool is that a lot of the food scene is thanks to indigenous cooking methods and ingredients. Are there “any” Mexico-inspired restaurants worthy of a visit in London?