Mexico cuisine is beginning to gain worldwide notoriety. Most recently, Anthony Bourdain took viewers to Tijuana, Baja California to taste some of the world’s best street tacos, but there is far more to Mexico’s cuisine than tacos. In Baja, California, for instance, fine dining has been bolstered by the presence of some of the region’s most productive wineries in the Valle de Guadalupeand the rise of BajaMed. Still, it is in Mexico City where most of the cosmopolitan friendly cuisines can be found, with restaurants like Biko, Pujol and Quintonil gaining worldwide attentions, as we covered here.
Mexico cuisine is generally considered a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican cooking with European, particularly Spanish, elements combined, and this remains true for most of the restaurants on this list, which features chefs who studied not only in Europe, but also in New York City.
Some of the restaurants building upon the basic staples of Mexican cuisine like corn, beans and chili peppers, while others take advantage of global influence and offer international cuisine of an entirely different take. There is a lot of meat on this list, but as vegetarian cuisine becomes more popular on a global level, so to does it in Mexico. And, yes, you can be sure the restaurants on this list serve up their fair share of fresh herbs and spices.
Amaranta is in the heart of the city of Toluca, with a focus on fine wines in a main dining hall which fits approximately 60 people to enjoy Mexican classics, from breakfast to dinner. From Mexico City to Amaranta is about a one hour drive, but it will be worth it to taste chef Pablo Salas’ use of local produce for mole verde or deep-fried sandwiches filled with chicken and mole. The restaurant serves a lot of pork dishes and a sommelier who features local beers and wine.
Toluca, located in Mexico State, where it is the state capital, is the fifth largest urban area in Mexico, located about 39 miles west-southwest of Mexico City.
“Ricardo Muñoz Zurita is probably the most renowned chef as far as research is concerned: He dug into Mexican culture and traveled the whole country to research his recipes,” says Sandoval of this restaurant’s founder. The two level restaurant has an outdoor garden, and is a great place to sample star regional dishes like a Oaxacan mole that takes three days to prepare and seafood Veracruz-style with a salty tomato sauce flecked with capers and Spanish olives.
Within beautiful architecture which includes a catwalk-esque bridge leading into the restaurant, you can choose seating in either an outdoor lounge or a outdoor dining of teak dining tables and fluffy-white cushions at this Acapulco fine dining establishment.
The reservation queue here is three weeks in the busy time of the year, but that is because Becco al Mare is one of Acapulco’s most popular restaurants. The menu of bar snacks and light appetizers can fill you up on dishes such as tuna tartare, freshly sliced proscuitto de parma, and other seafood salad options, topped off by pastas of langoustines, fettuccine and traditional beef and chicken with elaborate sauces and sides.
Chefs Mikel Alonso (France) and Bruno Oteiza (Spain) create a delicious melange of Basque flavors with Mexico’s finest ingredients. Biko is above Mexico City’s Presidente Masaryk Avenue in upmarket Polanco, and features two menus.
“Foie gras candy floss and geometrical milk origami break down culinary barriers, for example, while the humble cauliflower is given a new lease of life as a truffled soup topped with radish pickles and olive spheres,” as World’s 50 Best writes.
For more on Biko, click here.
Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Chef Diego Hernández, from Ensenada, believes the best food is the healthiest, freshest food available, giving him the idea to launch Corazón de Tierra and its onsite orchard where fruits, vegetables, olive oil and honey turn into beautiful dishes.
The restaurant offers a wine selection comprised largely of Vena Cava wines, which has a winery housed at the same site. Trained by Benito Molina, Guillermo González and Enrique Olvera and prides himself on creating inventive cuisine based on his native Baja California.
Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California
Valle de Guadalupe’s La Cocina de Doña Esthela might not belong on a “fine dining’ list, but the restaurant did receive the “Best Breakfast in the World” award from the food website FoodieHub. So we felt, for that reason alone, it’s worth a section in this article.
“It’s not easy to pick winners across so many nominations,” FoodieHub CEO Jeffrey Merrihue recently said, “So our methodology is similar to that of other food awards whereby local experts nominate items and a central team tries the items on a rotating basis.”
Try the restaurants famous machcaca con huevos (dried beef with eggs), pan de elote (corn bread) and a sampling of my amigo’s chorizo con huevos (spiced sausage with eggs).
Baja California surf and turf in Mexico City prepared by chef Jair Téllez, who partnered with the owners of Mexico City restaurant Contramar to create MeroTero, inspired by Baja California since Téllez is from Tijuana. Located in Colonia Condesa, MeroTero serves fresh ceviche, raviolis and risottos, fish dishes and meat dishes. The selection of Baja California wines, cocktails and craft beers will wash down your fresh food perfectly.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Located in the North American retirement community of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Moxi serves dishes from organically raised produced paired with international flavorings in dishes such as lump crab, salad with avocado, Cambray potato chips, and guajillo. There is always a fish of the day at this restaurant.
“Most of all, the cooking is a thrill, largely because it sails right over ideas like tradition, authenticity and modernity. The flavors are here and now, though; you connect with the dishes right away,” the New York Times wrote of this expatriate paradise, home to 6,000 expatriates from Canada and the US.
Chef Roberto Solís’ haute cuisine at Nectar reflects the kitchens where he trained: Noma, Per Se and The Fat Duck. The Yucatán region of Mexico provides the backdrop to Nectar’s quest to use original flavors but also using the historical roots of the region. Fried summer tomatoes with pork, venison with orange, grapefruit, quail egg, honey and onions and unique tamale recipes, Nectar is indeed a unique dining experience.
Daniel Ovadi’s (chef at restaurants Paxia, Peltre) newest restaurant, Nudo Negro, serves Mexican cuisine and classics, with a hint of inspiration from Asia and the Middle East with dishes such as ssam with beef filet, crispy noodles, and mint; and crispy pigs’ ears with tzatziki, cured garlic, and strands of jicama.
The spectrum of flavors at Nudo Negro highlights Mexican classics mixed with Asia and Middle eastern influences with original use of color, plating and technique. Nudo Negro is yet another restaurant to try in Mexico’s cuisine capital, Mexico City.
Chef Guillermo González Beristáin owns many restaurants, including Pangea, which offers French inspirations served through the culinary vehicle of Mexican produce. On the menu, items like 60-hour short rib with potato galette, lion-paw scallop with prawn mousse and an à la carte menu grilled octopus accompanied by chickpea stew lead the restaurant to receiving global media coverage. Opened in 1998, Beristáin brings experience from training at New York’s Culinary Institute of America to this Monterrey gem.
Pujol is located in the Polanco district and has just 13 tables “in an elegantly minimalist and moody monochrome setting.” Having studied at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Enrique Olvera opened a restaurant in Manhattan before Mexico City. Here, tamales are made with bone marrow, not flour, and tostados have octopus ink inside.
For more on Pujol, click here.
Rosetta first opened its doors in 2010 to serve Mexico City residents and tourists simple and fresh food. Owned by Elena Reygadas, who trained in both New York and London, Rosetta shows an Italian influence (thanks to Reygadas training under Italian Giorgio Locatelli), seen on the menus home-made pastas list. Sea snails, quail, cereals roasted figs and hoja santa ice cream make this restaurant uniquely Mexican…with a twist.
His experience on cruise ships and training under Enrique Olvera in Mexico City prepared Jorge Vallejo to open a restaurant in Mexico. With a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients, herbs and grains, as well indigenous produce, Vallejo specializes in fruit and vegetables, yet serves meat dishes as well.
For more on Quintonil, click here.
Rokai was founded by Tokyo native Hiroshi Kawahito. Though that chef no longer works at Rokai, the Japanese restaurant still serves its authentic omakase and fish sourced from Mexico. The menu features sushi, sashimi, oysters, tempura, and hand rolls. In Japanese culture, where diners ordering Omakase means a gesture of confidence in the chef who then offers a taste of the best of his repertoire: fresh and of high quality dishes. Rokai, a small restaurant, works off this tradition.
The sushi bar chef Hiroshi Kawahito, accompanied by Daisuke Maeda, offers omakase to dinner consisting of about nine or ten courses menu. Every day is different, it depends on the day’s catch. Will it be Ensenada octopus sashimi or red snapper with Himalayan salt and yuzu paste; fried with ginger, karaage organic chicken with garnish of horseradish, roll nigiri tuna and golden tofu? You’ll have to visit to find out.
The elite of Tijuana eat at Villa Saverios which is owned by the infamous Plascencia family, known for their chain of well-to-do restaurants in Tijuana. Bare wood floors, mottled walls, white-napped tables give way to a beautiful open kitchen in what is a Mexican-accented continental restaurant based on fresh ingredients sourced from Baja, featuring carpaccio of smoked marlin in olive oil from Baja, topped with avocado, basil, habanero chiles, and mango vinaigrette. The Baja shrimp are boiled and served on samphire. The short ribs are cooked for eight hours and come in a bed of mashed potatoes with cheese from Baja.
*Restaurants chosen by MexResorts staff experience in Mexico and research of online reviews and dining publications.
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