Category Archives: Mexican

Chef Paco´s New Rebozo – Oh My God!

Cochinita pibil tacos await you at New Rebozo in Chicago's Gold Coast.
Cochinita pibil tacos await you at New Rebozo in Chicago’s Gold Coast.

If you visit New Rebozo, chances are that aside from a remarkable meal, you will be delighted by owner Chef Paco’s warm and exuberant personality.  After more than 20 years of success at his Oak Park location, where Chef Paco (A.K.A. Francisco López) is already a fixture, this Mexico City native decided to bring his creativity and passion for authentic Mexican food to Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Holy mole! Chef Paco delights his guests with his complex, yet surprisingly down-to-earth mole Poblano, at New Rebozo.

Chef Paco equates food to the dynamics of everyday life: “Life can be sweet and sour… even salty, add love to it and you will strike a balance.”  His philosophy spills into every corner of his restaurant. There is definitely love in New Rebozo, named after a shawl Mexican women wear. From the cozy fireplace to the thoughtfully picked art, the dining room and patio embrace you like welcoming Mexican embassies. Do not expect to find cultural clichés here.  New Rebozo is the real deal both in form and content. “My work is about making people happy,” said Paco. “That’s my ultimate goal.”

Full of flavor, depth and whimsy, it is so fitting that mole is one of Chef Paco´s specialties. Very few words say fiesta and Mexico as loud and clear as mole does, particularly in the countryside, where this traditional dish is served during important celebrations such as weddings and christenings. Chef Paco´s mole Poblano is so good, I have no doubt that my Pueblan grandma, who was often charged with making the mole for her village’s fiestas patronales*,  would have approved.

Watermelon mojitos: Oh my God!
Watermelon mojitos: Oh my God!

If you visit New Rebozo,  do not miss the cochinita pibil tacos, a delicacy straight from Yucatán. There is a piece of Mexican heaven in every perfectly flavorful bite and they are surprisingly not greasy. The watermelon mojitos are also quite memorable- one sip of those glorious cocktails had my entire table exclaiming in unison: “Oh my God!”

*In Mexico, fiestas patronales are a village’s most important celebration, and are typically dedicated to the patron saint the village is named after.

New Rebozo Chicago

46 E. Superior

Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 202-9141

Open Mon-Sun 12-10 pm

New Rebozo Chicago on Urbanspoon

Seeking El Mejor Taco al Pastor in Chicago. The Nominees Are…!

Photo courtesy of: El Califa. Mexico City, Mexico
Photo courtesy of: El Califa. Mexico City, Mexico

Our story on tacos al pastor was very well received, thank you for reading and for all of your comments!  Messages poured in asking for recommendations in Chicago. Since we don’t have a favorite taco al pastor purveyor in the city yet, we decided to go in search of the best taco al pastor! We have asked our friends to submit their favorites. We will evaluate the tacos for the next few weeks considering a variety of criteria- from meat quality to freshness of the tortillas and salsa, we will share it with you all! Our readers submitted the eateries below. Stay tuned for our verdict.

  1. Atotonilco
  2. Big Star
  3. De Cero
  4. El Pastor
  5. El Tío Luis
  6. El Solazo
  7. Indio
  8. La Ciudad
  9. Lagartija
  10. Los Comales
  11. Los Gallos
  12. L´Patrón
  13. Mercadito
  14. Rubi’s Market on Maxwell
  15. Taco joint
  16. Taquería Juanito
  17. Tierra Caliente
  18. Zacataco

Flock to the Shepherd -The Charismatic Taco al Pastor

Photo: El Califa, Mexico City
Photo courtesy of: El Califa, Mexico City

RUTA MEXICANA

Whenever I visit Mexico, there is an additional ‘layover’ between the airport and my parents’ home in a suburb of Mexico City. Stopping for tacos al pastor or ‘shepherd-style’ tacos has become somewhat of an unspoken ritual. Luckily, no matter the time or day of the year, my sister is always prepared with a roster of recommendations that she has carefully curated in my absence. Count on her to rattle off an impressive selection that includes taquerías open on Christmas Day.

Despite the fact that taco stands abound, not all tacos are made equal. Ask any local. Finding the perfect taquería is almost a rite of passage for defeños*, one that speaks to the way we connect with our city and beyond- a Mexican’s relationship with their pastor is emotional… personal.

Photo courtesy of: El Califa. Mexico City, Mexico
Photo courtesy of: El Califa. Mexico City, Mexico

When Enrico came with me to Mexico for the first time, he joined me in our recently established ritual. We visited a corner taquería where my family knew Chucho*, the taquero. Enrico was a little nervous as he eyed the cilantro and the onion piling over the tender marinated pork meat and pineapple. As a tourist who visits Mexico for the first time, Enrico asked me if the food was safe to eat. Trying to leverage whatever I could think of to reassure him, I said, “You will be fine. The taquero’s name is Jesus!”

He was an instant convert.

I have yet to find a perfect spot in Chicago to have tacos al pastor. Recently, I was crushed to find that some places serve them with cubed meat. I am on a mission to find a place I can recommend!

In the meantime, if you have the good fortune to be in Mexico City, you must check out El Califa. Aside from their outstanding customer service, they are famous for the way they serve the meat and for their freshly-made tortillas.

You will see why I think that this taco is king.

* Defeño is a Citizen of Mexico City (D.F.)

**In Mexico, Chucho is short for Jesús, which is a fairly common name

EL CALIFA 

Altata 22, Col. Condesa, Mexico City, Mexico 

Click here to find additional locations

Hours: Mon. thru  Sun. 1:00 p.m. –  4:00 a.m. 

Guacamole Nacionalista con Requesón y Granada

Guacamole Nacionalista Foto cortesía de Dulce Patria
Guacamole Nacionalista Foto: Proporcionada y reproducida con el permiso de “Dulce Patria”

 

Según la receta de la chef ejecutiva y propietaria de Dulce Patria, Martha Ortiz

Rendimiento: 2 porciones

Ingredientes:

60       g          cebolla blanca picada

160     ml       jugo de limón

280     g          pulpa de aguacate

40       g          cilantro picado

30       g          chiles serranos despepitados y picados, o al gusto

10       g          granos de granada roja

20       g          requesón

Tortillas de maíz fritas cortadas en triángulos, para acompañar

Pan árabe dorado cortado en triángulos, para acompañar

Sal y pimienta, al gusto

Procedimiento:

Desfleme la cebolla en el jugo de limón durante media hora. Escurra y reserve. Machaque cuidadosamente el aguacate en un tazón o molcajete; incorpore el cilantro, la cebolla desflemada y el chile serrano. Sazone con sal y pimienta. Ofrezca el guacamole en un plato vistoso, decorado con la granada roja y el requesón, así como los totopos de maíz y pan árabe.

 
Encuentra un artículo sobre mi visita a este magnífico establecimiento haciendo click aquí.

 

Chef Martha Ortiz Chapa

Texto proporcionado por y reproducido con el permiso de Dulce Patria:

“En la obra de Martha Ortiz Chapa confluyen la sensibilidad y el talento. Martha posee una visión sensible de la vida, a partir de la cual inventa nuevos universos. Investigadora y conocedora de la realidad social (materia que estudió de manera profesional), posee un profundo amor a nuestro país y su cultura. En su quehacer cotidiano, ha sabido combinar ambas vertientes, la de la creación, la imaginación, el descubrimiento de novedades bellas, por un lado, y la de los sabores y las costumbres inscritas en las raíces mexicanas. Así, tiene en su haber varios libros de cocina, a la vez que una importante participación en festivales y congresos internacionales.

La trayectoria de Martha Ortiz Chapa brilla con luz propia en un campo esencial de esa historia pasada y siempre presente del país, que es su gastronomía. Pero en su caso no se trata de una obra ni de una cocina convencionales. Ella habita el mundo de la cocina mexicana para disfrutar todos los placeres imaginables que ésta supone, y no sólo en el terreno inagotable de los sentidos sino también en el de su desarrollo y su significado. A la cocinera le encanta platicar historias con sus recetas y adora visitar mercados, así como admirar las colecciones de alta costura más importantes en el mundo. Pasea por museos y disfruta leer, ya muy tarde por la noche, para tener presente lo pictórico en la cocina y los sabores en la palabra, lo cual se refleja en los títulos de sus platillos-cuentos, la gran puesta en escena. De esta manera es a la vez experta en el arte gastronómico e intérprete, informada e imaginativa, de nuestros sabores y tradiciones. Pruebas de tal riqueza son el recinto del restaurante Dulce Patria —iluminado con sabor, sazón y aroma— que Martha Ortiz Chapa dirige exitosamente en la ciudad de México, además de diversos premios y reconocimientos.”

Once Upon a Plate in Mexico: Fairytale Fare at Dulce Patria

Fish Pozole at Dulce Patria, Mexico City, Mexico Photo: Brenda Storch
Fish pozole at “Dulce Patria”, Mexico City, Mexico –  Photo credit: Brenda Storch

RUTA MEXICANA

Whenever I visit home in Mexico City, I wish I could bring it back in a suitcase. Perhaps this is why Dulce Patria resonated so strongly with me. I had limited time at home and many new options available to explore. After much research and careful evaluation, I decided to celebrate my birthday at this restaurant. Two main elements influenced my decision,  the fact that Dulce Patria is highly acclaimed chef Martha Ortiz Chapa’s latest creation; and the establishment´s name, which by itself is captivating. “Patria” in Spanish is what “patriotic” in English would be if it were a noun. How perfectly fitting. Dulce Patria spoke to the sweet home country I was physically returning to (I often wander it in my dreams), even if briefly.

Every detail at Dulce Patria has been carefully curated to create an extraordinary experience. Right in the heart of Mexico City’s financial district, an inside patio reminiscent of a hacienda, along with cacti-shaped sculptures, create a new  world. Thoughtful touches like starfruit slices in your water, edible flowers and dishes carefully plated on whimsical handcrafts, add to an environment created to make guests feel they have stepped into a different dimension.  I was moved to realize that somebody shared my sentiment: Dulce Patria is like a little piece of Mexico that has been taken for safekeeping: chef Martha Ortiz Chapa keeps Mexico in her heart.

Asphalt jungle outside, beautiful patio inside. Photo credit:  Brenda Storch
Asphalt jungle outside, beautiful patio inside. Photo credit: Brenda Storch

And from her heart she speaks and cooks: Ortiz Chapa draws inspiration from Mexican artisans, poetry and art, all ingredients of the edible stories she creatively and passionately tells through her food.  Her characters are popular dishes that can be either found in the streets of Mexico, or more elegantly presented at fancier tables. Says Ortiz Chapa about her protagonists, “estos platos son los héroes que nos dieron patria” (these plates are the heroes that have given us our homeland).

Photo: Brenda Storch
Bucket of pepitorias with chamoy salsa.  Photo: Brenda Storch
A twist on mole con pollo, mole con pato.  Photo credit: Brenda Storch
A twist on chicken with mole sauce: duck with mole sauce. Photo credit: Brenda Storch
Mexican folk candy on a whimsical handcraft. Photo credit: Brenda Storch
Mexican folk candy on a whimsical handcraft. Photo credit: Brenda Storch

Mentioning that  food at Dulce Patria is absolutely extraordinary feels like stating the obvious. Suffice it to say, that at some point during my meal, the gastronomic narrative of chef Ortiz Chapa began feeling less like fantastic prose and more like pure poetry.

Restaurante Dulce Patria

Anatole France 100

Col. Polanco

Delegación Miguel Hidalgo

11560 México, D.F.

Teléfono: 3300-3999

Fax: 3300-3955

Horarios: lunes a sábado, de 1:30 pm 11:30 pm.

Domingos: de 1:30 a 5:30 pm.

Oaxaca: Comida de Dioses (Food of the Gods)

      RUTA MEXICANA

Photo credit: Chef Aldo Saavedra. Oaxaca, Mexico
In Oaxaca, food is abundant and incredibly diverse. Casual or sophisticated, aside from flavor, chocolate is a delicious common thread in many Oaxacan dishes. Otherwise referred to as “food of the gods” chocolate, from the Náhuatl xocolátl, is one of Mexico´s greatest gifts to the world.
Find  this chocolate mousse with Pasilla chili powder, caramelized amaranto seeds and an edible flower at Casa Oaxaca.  Executive Chef and owner Alejandro Ruiz, delights guests at his downtown Oaxaca establishment with a modern take on Oaxacan cuisine that incorporates local ingredientes such as flowers and insects.
This is probably one of the priciest restaurants in the city. A visit, especially if you are planning a trip to the attractions in nearby Mitla or Hierve el Agua is well worth it, though.  Casa Oaxaca also offers cooking classes.   If you are in town or planning to go,  don’t miss the opportunity to check it out. Constitución 104-4, Col. Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico. Call ahead: 01 (951) 516 85 31

Chiles Rellenos with a Twist

 RUTA MEXICANA

Photo Credits: Gerardo Hernández
Mexico City, Mexico
El Cardenal in Mexico City, uses chipotle chilis instead of poblano peppers to create an absolutely remarkable chile relleno dish.  The sweet and smoky taste of chipotle offers a very creative take on a traditional plate. The peppers are stuffed with a blend of two cheeses.
This restaurant makes its own bread, tortillas, cheese and chocolate; its a wonderful place for breakfast and  has many locations throughout Mexico City. This photo was taken at the Polanco location.
Reservations are suggested, but not required.
Not in Mexico City? No worries! Make your own chiles rellenos

Saliditos del Comal – Estampas de mi Ciudad

La Casa de las Sirenas, República de Guatemala No. 32, Centro Histórico, México City, Mexico

RUTA MEXICANA

Sopes and quesadillas fresh of the comal delight tourists and locals at “La Casa de las Sirenas”. At this restaurant, food comes with a side of history- the eatery is located inside a 16th century building.



Mexican Restaurant “Pujol” Among World’s Best

Find Chef Enrique Olvera´s Elotito Asado Recipe here and find out how you can purchase his new recipe book,                   “En la Milpa”.  Photo Courtesy of ¨Pujol¨.

¨Pujol¨ Francisco Petrarca 254  Polanco, Mexico City (01 55) 5545-4111

Just like movies sketch the reflection of a society in celluloid, Enrique Olvera captures a piece of Mexico in every single one of his dishes. Complex, surrealistic and magical, his cuisine catches the soul of an ancestral culture, and artistically presents it through the lens of modern, world-class gastronomy.

For those fortunate enough to be familiar with the extraordinary array of delicacies that make up Mexican food, Olvera’s flagship restaurant Pujol, offers a haute-cuisine take on a culture that bends time and overlaps the past with the present. Pre-Hispanic ingredients such as insects and chiles, interact with other elements through the alchemy of modern techniques to delight guests with a piece of this fascinating country.

For those of you with the impression that Mexican food does not go far beyond your chain burrito establishment, a stop at Pujol is a must if you are interested in experiencing authentic Mexico in one single bite.

Pujol is the first restaurant in Mexico to be inducted into the prestigious San Pellegrino List of the World’s Fifty Best Restaurants, by Restaurant magazine. The private, understated establishment is a treasure to be found in the heart of Polanco, Mexico City’s financial district.

“En la Milpa”: Un compendio de Recetas del Chef Enrique Olvera

En la Milpa, el recetario del Chef Enrique Olvera

El Mercadito

Find creative interpretations of tacos, guacamole and great drinks at Mercadito Chicago, 108 West Kedzie St.

My neighborhood’s mercadito appeared every Saturday, quietly unrolling an elaborate tapestry of tents at dawn. Overnight, with the mystery of an ancestral spell, our street became the usual host of a festival of flavors, scents and sounds that enchanted the whole block.

Like everywhere else in Mexico, at el mercadito, magic intersected with practicality in the most fascinating of ways- turn one corner, and find  a merolico offering a variety of remedies to mend anything from broken hearts to calluses. Turn another one, and find furniture, jewelry, imported toys, flowers, shoes or someone ready to change your curtain fixtures.

Mercado. Querétaro de Arteaga, México.
Photo credits: Alicia Ramírez Presburger

I remember farmers offering the fruits of their crops with the pride of someone who has managed to talk the earth into creating edible jewelry, and parents always making the point to stop with their kids to either try an orange, a mango or to happily claim their free tostadas con crema at the dairy counter. Inventories were easily altered and could accommodate almost any request:

¨Señito, next week would you like me to bring your chicken alive or dead?¨ 

Food was always local, always seasonal and I am pretty sure, always organic. I am not quite certain anybody realized what a treat that was.

We were just used to it.

One of my favorite Saturday rituals was visiting el mercadito to get sopes, tlacoyos or quesadillas made from fresh nixtamal. These delicious dishes were conjured by skilled marchantitas, sorcerers of their comal. Cheese, green or red salsa, beans and freshly made tortillas delighted the hosts, who managed to rotate and sit by the dozens under a tiny canopy. Cactus, zucchini blossoms, potatoes with poblano peppers and cream as well as a variety of meat dishes, were just a few delicacies that anyone could choose from to stuff their quesadillas. Señoras in charge of this stand would charm masa into capricious forms, while adding numbers and crossing conversations by yelling the total of patrons’ bills. They never seemed to have a written tally, but knew with incredible precision who had eaten what, and how much the total amounted to.

I am not sure if this vignette has been genetically impressed upon me like a Diego Rivera mural or perhaps it is that mercado tarps are the fabric of my childhood memories. Whatever it is, I can’t help to smile when I think of Saturdays, and the magic they bring.

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