Amaranta - The State of Mexico's Best
A triumvirate of extraordinary fine-dining restaurants surround Mexico City proper. What they have in common is that they all offer less explored regional cooking and are not pretentious. I have lauded Paco Molina’s Evoka, and star chef Aquiles Chavez’ wonderful Sotero in Pachuca awaits another visit and a proper review.
Amaranta is located about an hour west of the city in Toluca. Designated one of S. Pellegrino’s 50 Best Latin American Restaurants, it’s well worth the trip. It falls into the category of Modern Mexican which in some cases can be off-putting: dishes are invented by the chef, presented in a contemporary “abstract expressionist” manner and utilize what’s local and seasonal. But the food here is honest and approachable.
The unassuming exterior—”could this really be it?” I asked myself the first time I went, gives way to a slick, contemporary art-filled dining room.
The kitchen, which honors and at the same time re-invents the region’s bounty, is under the baton of esteemed chef Pablo Salas, who grew up nearby. Salas is a promoter of the area’s cuisine and ingredients that he finds in markets or procures from purveyors in the towns surrounding Toluca.
Traditional dishes are referred to then reinvented: Rosy salmon trout, abundant in the state’s many mountain streams, may show up as a Peruvian-style ceviche or lightly sautéed, served with a celadon colored pipian over local organic salad. Ravioli are filled with local wild greens never before seen on a be-clothed table. Rabbit, common at roadhouses throughout the state, is done in a piquant chili garlic sauce.
A six course tasting menu is always offered and is the best way to go, as the menu is in a constant state of flux. Prices are reasonable, in the neighborhood of $600 per person with a glass of wine.
Amaranta Cocina Mexiquense Contemporánea
Francisco Murguia 402 (corner of Matamoros), Colonia Universidad, Toluca, Estado de México
Be it known that Uber will get you there and back for $400-500 each way.
Tel. (722) 280-8265
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday, Sunday: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.