The blending of cultures has always mapped out the culinary history of human beings. Without Mexico, Italy wouldn’t have its beloved tomatoes; without cinnamon from Asia, arroz con leche wouldn’t have the same zing; and let’s not even imagine a world without the wine grapes, first cultivated in Georgia around 8,000 years ago. The following restaurants in Mexico City mix and match culinary traditions to give you a taste of the global and a flavor of the local.
Run by one of Mexico City’s top chefs, Elena Reygadas, Rosetta opened its doors in 2010 to critical acclaim. Reygadas fuses her talent for Italian cooking, nurtured by an Italian grandparent, with her Mexican roots. The fusion is obvious in stuffed squash blossoms with ricotta cheese, pasta with chile de arbol, or her mango and strawberry lasagna. Set up among romantic French architecture in Colonia Roma, the service is impeccable and the food even better.
Sesame calls itself Pan Asian cuisine, and just like its sister restaurant, Paprika Cocina de Especias, Sesame’s goal is to offer you a taste of the entire continent. From Peking duck to pad thai to samosas, everything is carefully created, artfully plated and, above all, delicious. The space in Colonia Roma is welcoming and cozy and has a great ambiance for a night out with friends.
Eloise Chic Cuisine | Courtesy of Eloise Chic Cuisine
As the name suggests, Eloise is a chic, cozy, bistro-style restaurant in Mexico City’s southern San Angel neighborhood. While most of their dishes are versions of French classics, like French onion soup or short ribs a la bourguignon, the chef mixes in Mexican spices and endemic fruits and vegetables. The foie gras creme brûlée comes with a maracuya vinaigrette, and the tuna tartar is chopped up with cilantro, mango, and fried tortilla slivers. This is a place where you can get your French fix and a taste of Mexico at the same time.
Another French–Mexican fusion, Mexsi Bocu mixes Mexican huazontles with goat’s cheese and roasted tomatoes and sprinkles a bit of cotija cheese here and there to give their French-inspired dishes an added plus. The epazote raviolis are particularly divine, along with the cilantro couscous and salmon with a Mexicana béarnaise sauce. Their location, on the border between Colonia Roma and Colonia Condesa, is romantically lit and decorated with all the pomp and circumstance that you would imagine in an eclectic French mansion. The outdoor patio is particularly pleasant on warm summer nights.
Paprika is brought to us from the folks who started Sesame and is a culinary lesson in Middle Eastern food across countries and regions. Everything from kebobs to Persian meatballs to curries figure in this menu, which delights with a range of spices and flavors. There are lots of dishes to please vegetarians, such as falafel, Iranian rice, couscous, and quinoa salad. Set right off Alvaro Obregon street in La Roma, Paprika is a perfect date-night location and a great place to people watch.
A Spanish–Mexican fusion dish at Biko | Courtesy of Biko Restaurant
Biko combines a litany of seafood dishes and the traditional meats and cheeses of the old continent with the huitlacoche, roasted corn, and peanuts of the New World. This Spanish–Mexican fusion is creatively pulled off with a menu that satisfies eaters of all types. Especially attractive is the extensive list of both Spanish and Mexican wine, with pairing suggestions printed on the menu for those of us with a lack of wine knowledge. This is fine dining with artistically plated specialties and an upscale location on Mexico City’s version of Rodeo Drive, Presidente Masaryk in the Polanco neighborhood.
Nudo Negro, in an effort not to be pigeonholed, calls its cooking “cuisines of the world.” And while the menu does run the gamut from falafel to vegetable soup, there is a heavy Asian influence, with lots of soy sauce, sambal, lemongrass, and ginger. Mexican chiles feature heavily on the menu and there are several classic Mexican preparations with a twist, such as the duck barbacoa and the pork chamorro. Daniel Ovadia, one of the restaurant’s chefs, came to fame early as one of the youngest chefs in the city, and he continues to expand his culinary empire.
Koku gets an honorary mention due to the fact that while most of the menu is Japanese, they also have Mexican-style seafood tacos and tostados. Their tuna tiradito is served with blue corn chips and their tacos are filled with octopus, radish, red onion, bacon, and spicy pickled cabbage. The rest of the menu is much more traditional, with sushi rolls, sashimi, and tempura-battered shrimp and veggies. This neighborhood has more and more culinary treats these days, and Koku fits right in to the international restaurant vibe.