Seafood restaurants are popular in Mexico City


Despite its landlocked location, Mexico City has always offered plenty of casual seafood eateries, the best-known of these being Gabriela Cámara’s Contramar, which cemented the jewel-toned tuna tostada as one of the must-try dishes. of the city more than two decades ago. . “Most of the formal restaurants that sold fish were more ‘European’ and the local places were very wash and carry and market stalls,” Cámara recalls from his opening in 1998. His interest in national fishing and cooperatives has appeared at the time. , when the city’s top chefs were still mostly training in Europe and returning to open fancy French or Spanish restaurants. It would be another ten years before chefs started opening upscale Mexican restaurants.

Today, Mexico City’s most ambitious chefs are focusing their talents on more personal regional restaurants, and since last year that’s meant the city’s hottest new spots sport beach vibes and seafood. immaculate directly from the Pacific coast. When the pandemic hit, everyone turned to comfort food, says foodie guide Anaís Martínez, especially fried foods like chicken sandwiches. But when people started going out again, that changed. “They wanted hangover food – that’s what seafood is for us,” she explains.

That’s why micheladas get an upgrade at Mi Compa Chava in the Roma district, where they prepare them with Clamato, the classic remedy for a raw. Servers weave their way through the chaotic line of people waiting for a table bearing platters of cheve chola: beer spilled into a cup of Clamato and lime juice, filled with octopus, prawns and serrano chiles.

Inside, music blares and patrons sit on metal folding chairs at beer-brand tables, dabbing homemade seafood sauce on freshly shucked almejas chocolatas (chocolate clams) and digging in jet black aguachile, tart with cocoa ash tannins, plump raw shrimp couverture. Next to the unmolded table, Señora Torres, a six-inch-tall stack of scallops, raw and cooked shrimp, octopus, albacore tuna, onions, cucumbers and avocados, dipped in chili sauce morita, teetering on the brink of absurdity, thrusting safely back to the impressive sheer quality of the fish and the precision of the flavors.

Mi Compa Chava opened in June 2021, and it was “a lifeline for this pandemic,” says owner Salvador Orozco. Chef Sinaloan has always dreamed of one day opening a seafood restaurant, so when he quit his job after more than a decade with restaurant group Bull & Tank, he accelerated that plan.

To keep his father from finding out he’d been kicked out of middle school, Irak Roaro dutifully put on his school uniform every morning, but spent his days hanging out at Mazatlán’s house. my lesson with the local spearfishermen, watching them work and eat. “They filleted the fish and just added chiltepin pepper, lime and a little sea water,” the chef recalls.

Roaro eventually left the Sinalo coast for the kitchens of Mexico City and has spent the past 15 years working in the food industry. Lately, he’s wanted to make the connection between his beach memories and his formal training. “I try to take those techniques, those flavor constructs and bring them to a taco,” he says. That vision comes to life at Con Vista al Mar, which he opened in Colonia Nápoles last year, where he dresses octopus tacos with hoja santa-habanero pesto and stuffs tortillas with tuna carnitas and manta rays. al pastor. “I want to cook what I like to eat,” he says.

Despite its landlocked location, Mexico City has always offered plenty of casual seafood eateries, the best-known of these being Gabriela Cámara’s Contramar, which cemented the jewel-toned tuna tostada as one of the must-try dishes. of the city more than two decades ago. . “Most of the formal restaurants that sold fish were more ‘European’ and the local places were very wash and carry and market stalls,” Cámara recalls from his opening in 1998. His interest in national fishing and cooperatives has appeared at the time. , when the city’s top chefs were still mostly training in Europe and returning to open fancy French or Spanish restaurants. It would be another ten years before chefs started opening upscale Mexican restaurants.

Today, Mexico City’s most ambitious chefs are focusing their talents on more personal regional restaurants, and since last year that’s meant the city’s hottest new spots sport beach vibes and seafood. immaculate directly from the Pacific coast. When the pandemic hit, everyone turned to comfort food, says foodie guide Anaís Martínez, especially fried foods like chicken sandwiches. But when people started going out again, that changed. “They wanted hangover food – that’s what seafood is for us,” she explains.

That’s why micheladas get an upgrade at Mi Compa Chava in the Roma district, where they prepare them with Clamato, the classic remedy for a raw. Servers weave their way through the chaotic line of people waiting for a table bearing platters of cheve chola: beer spilled into a cup of Clamato and lime juice, filled with octopus, prawns and serrano chiles.

Inside, music blares and patrons sit on metal folding chairs at beer-brand tables, dabbing homemade seafood sauce on freshly shucked almejas chocolatas (chocolate clams) and digging in jet black aguachile, tart with cocoa ash tannins, plump raw shrimp couverture. Next to the unmolded table, Señora Torres, a six-inch-tall stack of scallops, raw and cooked shrimp, octopus, albacore tuna, onions, cucumbers and avocados, dipped in chili sauce morita, teetering on the brink of absurdity, thrusting safely back to the impressive sheer quality of the fish and the precision of the flavors.

Mi Compa Chava opened in June 2021, and it was “a lifeline for this pandemic,” says owner Salvador Orozco. Chef Sinaloan has always dreamed of one day opening a seafood restaurant, so when he quit his job after more than a decade with restaurant group Bull & Tank, he accelerated that plan.

“I have always been very inspired by the figure of the mustachioed marisqueros who takes care of you, who pampers you, who hugs you, who knows what you like,” says Orozco. In creating the restaurant, he intended to bring the classic seaside town seafood cart to Mexico City.

Chef Alexander Suástegui, who grew up in Sinaloa and Tijuana, knows these carts serve the best food, at the best prices. “You don’t have to have a fancy chair or fancy service,” she says. A veteran of several of the city’s top spots, including Pujol and Quintonil, Suástegui serves mussels in chiltepin chili sauce under a mural of a Baja sunset with pink palm trees at her Costela restaurant, which she opened in Colonia Cuauhtémoc in November. Encouraging her guests to wear flip flops for dinner, she’s candid about her vision. “I don’t want to open another restaurant to be like the others. I want to have fun; I want to share my food, my table,” she says. She uses her culinary school training and technical knowledge to create what she calls “chill-out” versions of seafood dishes, including octopus tostadas with fresh and dried shrimp and fish tacos. -Baja-style globe.

This same philosophy is shared by Roaro. “People aren’t looking for pretentious food,” he says. They still want good food and a nice presentation, but more than anything, they want to have a good time. Fun fonts, quirky style choices, and bright colors—like green at Con Vista al Mar, orange-red at Costela, and yellow at Mi Compa Chava—telegraph the lively party atmosphere at each of the restaurants. “I’m obsessed with the atmosphere,” says Suástegui. Customers too: Orozco plans to open a second Mi Compa Chava, and Roaro celebrated the anniversary of Con Vista al Mar by opening a third point of sale.

“Everyone wants to eat good seafood,” Cámara says of the trend. But the idea of ​​chefs at the peak of their careers choosing to open hangover restaurants — and turning them into the most coveted tables — hit Mexico City’s dining scene like a rogue wave, surprising and invigorating it. . Creative, precise and playful, each evokes a specific corner of the Mexican coast, serving up a little vacation in the form of briny bites and spicy, seafood-stuffed beach energy.

Visit the fish market

For a brief period in 2018, when Tokyo’s Tsukiji closed to relocate, Mexico City La Nueva Viga was the largest fish market in the world, says Anaís Martínez of culinary travel company Devoured while touring the 90,000 square foot complex ($99 to $120, devoured.com.mx). As she browses the more than 250 wholesale and retail stalls, she points to red-muscled chocolate clams sticking like a tongue out of their rich brown shells, oversized Tampico crayfish, and a vendor drying cod in the oven. Sun. To get the good stuff, chefs and traders come at four in the morning, while home cooks come a few hours later to pick up shiny bonito and long yellow seabream. “You get fresher seafood here than on the coasts,” says Martínez, as it’s often shipped directly here, the country’s cultural and economic capital, before being shipped back. “They hate us in the countryside.”

Where to stay

The Ritz Carlton

For classic glamour, Mexico City’s first Ritz-Carlton rises above the iconic Paseo de la Reforma in a new 58-story tower offering sweeping views of Chapultepec Park, America’s second-largest park Latin. Rooms starting at $529, ritzcarlton.com

Circulo Mexicano

This modern, luxury hotel sits at the literal intersection of a pre-Hispanic archaeological site and the enormous Zócalo, the center of the colonial and modern city. Designed with simplicity in mind, rooms use wood and textiles to infuse a traditional touch into a fresh aesthetic. Rooms starting at $180, circulomexicano.com

Recommendations:

With Vista al Mar

Mexico’s favorite taco meats and street snacks are given a seafood makeover, made with subtle craftsmanship and witty nods to tradition. There are three locations.

Contramar

Tuna tostadas, two-toned fish, and must-see weekend lunches laid the foundation for today’s influx of outstanding seafood restaurants.

Costella

Come for the aguachiles with attitude, stay for the smoked marlin tacos in this ode to the coastal ideals of slowing down and eating tons of fresh seafood.

Mi Compa Chava

A beach party on a city sidewalk, only the music is louder, the presentations are more creative, and the seafood, somehow, is even fresher.


Source: Chilango

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