Global Delicious: The Best World Cuisine Restaurants in CDMX
Until quite recently Mexico City was a one-horse town in terms of the availability of so called “world” cuisines. Wonderful regional cooking from the four corners of the republic has been on offer since the first restaurant opened its doors during the colonial era. But traditional cooking—I’m trying to avoid the term “authentic” but you know what I mean—from other countries has never this town’s forte. While one might fear that encroaching globalization will homogenize our unique city, a benefit of this inevitable process, besides a noticeable return to, and elevation of, local traditions, is the increase in imported goods…and cultures. We are no longer just a provincial Latin American city but a worldly capital and fairly recent appearance of extraordinary venues for cooking from around the globe are a welcome addition to our culinary scene. A new generation of trained palettes is no longer satisfied with adapted Chinese/Amercian, ‘50’s French or shopping-mall Italian. There’s a demand for the real thing; and we have it. Many of the entries on the list prepare dishes every bit as good as in their own countries, sometimes, given the extraordinary materia prima we have to work with, even better.
Spanish/ Basque: Asador Vasco Ekilore
Spanish cuisine has been making news in recent years. Chefs Juan Mari Arzak and Ferrán Adriá have become household names--in gastronomically oriented households, anyway. It (and “it” is a gross generalization as there are many regions in Iberia whose kitchens wildly differ) is arguably the world’s finest yet simplest cooking. Ekilore, located in the far north of the city, is an ‘asador vasco’ – a type of rustic grill found in the provinces of the Basque country, chef Pablo san Roman’s birthplace. The restaurant is equipped with cider barrels (full of the best Asturian stuff) as well as a special wood-burning oven shipped from the old country. Ingredients are, as far as possible, culled from small producers in our own land. The chef explains that, “I am convinced that what makes authentic cuisine is tradition, so in my kitchens I try to honor the original flavors. In addition to grilled meats and fish, the menu at Ekilore offers a number of appetizers and dishes associated with the region such as sweet roasted pimientos piquillos filled with bacalao or rabo de res (oxtail), callos a la vizcaina (stewed tripe with smoky paprika) and huevos rotos (‘broken’ poached eggs over fried potatoes and serrano ham).
Also see: El Puntal del Norte
Calzada de los Jinetes 102, Las Arboledas see map
Tel. 55 5920 6473
Open Monday, Tuesday 1 - 7 p.m., Wednesday - Saturday 1 - 10 p.m., Sunday until 6
French: Havre 77
Havre is chef Eduardo ‘Lalo’ García’s venue for classic French cuisine. After his lengthy stint at NY's Michelin starred Le Bernardin, he knows what he's doing. The setting is a pretty turn of the 20th century house in colonia Juarez in several smallish rooms, a patio and I tiny space downstairs perfect for an affaire de coeur. The menu is comprised of bistro classics such as frissé aux lardon, confit de canard, steak frites and bouillabaisse, all done textbook perfect as only Lalo can do. The elegant raw bar features the best seafood from Baja California and even France itself. A fine selection of French wines, are on the blackboard.
Also see: Café Milou, Le Bon Bistro
Calle Havre 77, Col. Juarez; view map
Tel. 5208 1070
Open Tuesday – Saturday 1 – 11 p.m., Sunday 1 – 5 p.m., closed Monday
Roma’s most talked about hotspot features the cooking of young chef Marco Carboni who specialises in artisanal pasta. But oh, what pasta: for it turns out that the chef, who hails from Modena in northern Italy, has worked the kitchen of the world’s top chef Massimo Bottura, not to mention that of Jamie Oliver and Jordi Vilá’s Alkimia in Barcelona. He knows what he is doing. Creative pasta and entree options change daily. The space was designed by Taller ADG who also did N.Y.’s Cosme and is handsome though noise can be a problem; outdoor tables are quieter. Reservations are a must. See: Marco Carboni, Sartoria and all the Pasta
Also see: Osteria Ocho Maria Ciento38, L'osteria Becco, Trattoria della Casanuova
Orizaba 42, tel. 7258 7360, Open Tuesday – Saturday 1 – 11 p.m., Sunday until 5, closed Monday - View Map
Peruvian: El Mercadito Peruano
This locale, in the middle of the gourmand mecca, Mercado San Juan, does Peruvian dishes, especially ceviche, right. Hosting a seafood-educated clientele, many of Peruvian origin, Chef Miguel Cabrera, from Lima, oversees his micro-restaurant like a ballet master directing his company: he seems to have eyes at the back of his head. Many Peruvian dishes are influenced by the Japanese and Chinese who arrived there in the last 150 years. And let's face it, those Asian cooks know a thing or two about fish. The chef has brought this refined sensibility with him. El Mercadito turns out everything from perfect ceviche, both classic fish and mixed seafood, to tiraditos, 'chaufa' fried rice, as well as criollo dishes like potato-based causas. Ceviches are tossed in the traditional leche de tigre, literally ‘tiger's milk’, the emulsified sauce of oil, lime and fish juice. The previously mentioned ‘balance’ is crucial, as is timing.
Inside the Mercado San Juan, calle Ernesto Pugibet 21, centro (Local 279, near the fruit stands, towards the left as you enter the market) see map
Open daily except Tuesday, 12:30 to 5 p.m.
There is a second locale in the nearby Mercado San Juan Arcos de Belén (at the corner of López and Arcos de Belén) as well as in Polanco at Leibnitz 51.
Thai: Galanga Thai Kitchen
Galanga is an extraordinary restaurant run by chefs Somsri and her sister, both from southern Thailand (familiarly known as Ana) and Eleazar, Ana’s husband. The food here measures up to what I have eaten on my many trips to Bangkok and surpasses anything I have tried in New York. Such iconic dishes as som tum (green papaya salad), pad thai, larb (chopped and spiced meat) and massaman curry (a tart fruity blend) are prepared with respect to tradition. But new, unusual dishes are constantly added and may include gang pad ped yang, red curry with duck and pineapple or gang yang, BBQ's chicken with Thai spices or tod mun pla, a fish cake lightly perfumed with red curry. The couple raise their own produce (galangal, kaffir limes, pandan leaves etc.) in the state of Hidalgo so flavors are not compromised.
Guanajuato 202, Roma (see map)
Open Tuesday - Sunday, 1-10 p.m., closed Monday
Thai, Vietnamese: Kiin Viet/Thai Eatery , a few blocks away, is run by the same team. The menus overlap, though Kiin concentrates on both Thai and Vietnamese street foods such as satay kebabs, Vietnamese spring rolls and bahn mi, as well as hardy bowls of steaming pho.
Orizaba 219, at Coahuila, Roma (see map)
Tel. (55) 7095 7421
Open Tuesday - Saturday 1 - 11 p.m., Sunday 11 - 5, closed Mondays
Vietnamese: Pho’ King
This Vietnamese restaurant that opened its doors recently in the Zona Rosa has a name that invites puns, but it's no joke. This is probably our city's first venue devoted exclusively to traditional dishes from 'Nam and what we have sampled so far is excellent. Green Papaya salad, unlike its Thai cousin, is sweeter and less picante but equally refreshing. Nem, rolled, stuffed rice pancakes, are light and herby and their peanut sauce is a perfect compliment to the noodles and greens therein. And the star of the show, the pho itself, is exemplary: the broth is rich and aromatic, the fettuccini-shaped rice noodles retain a bite, sautéed beef bits stay tender. Portions are large, good for sharing and kind to those on a budget.
So far so good.
Florencia 33, between Hamburgo and Londres, Colonia Juarez ( see map)
Open Monday - Saturday 12 - 10 pm, Closed Sunday