In addition to being an avid traveler, I am also a foodie. One of my favorite parts of travel is trying the cuisines of new places. Whether ribs at Rendezvous in Memphis, brisket at Franklin BBQ in Austin, or chili at Skyline in Cincinnati, food is a large part of the travel experience.
So when I visited Mexico City, I was thrilled to discover that, just a short walk from Chapultepec Park, was the world’s 18th best restaurant, Pujol. I was even more excited when they had an opening for a late lunch while I was there. Since the price point – while expensive – was a bargain compared to a comparable meal in the US or Europe, I snatched the opening.
The restaurant is located on a quiet street in the Polanco neighborhood, and it is beautiful. Interiors are airy spaces reminiscent of the outdoors. From my table in the corner, I was able to watch the diligent staff go about their work.
The menu is a modern take on Mexican traditional fare. Most courses have a choice of four options, while a couple are set. The first course, entitled “street snacks” is one of the set courses, and consisted of a mini gordita with wagyu beef and avocado, and a skewered baby corn with a coffee-chile rub and ant powder. Fascinating!
For course two, I selected the octopus, grilled to perfection with habanero ink, ayocote (bean) hummus, tomatoes, onions, and olives. It was my favorite course of the day, and one of the best things I have EVER eaten!
Next came softshell crab, served with a plantain purée, greens, and Meyer lemon. It also came with tortillas to make it into tacos. Scrumptious!
For my main course, I selected sea bass, one of my favorite fish. It was grilled with an herb hummus, and crispy green. Again, it was served taco style, and was impeccable.
The mole course was perhaps the most interesting and, while not my favorite, is the dish I will remember most. Along with beautiful tortillas cooked with a leaf in them, we were served two kinds of mole. The inner, lighter colored one is made fresh daily, while the outer is from a long-cooked starter, with more added every few weeks. In my case, this was the 1377th day of its existence, lending a really complex and smoky flavor unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.
A palate cleanser arrived next, a sorbet of pulque (an alcohol made from agave) with guava and chile powder. It was very refreshing!
For dessert, I selected the chocolate course, a fantastic ganache served with caramelized bananas, mint ice cream, lemongrass, and an herbacious gel. I am not a huge chocolate fan, but I scraped the plate clean. And, of course, the staff brought by a churro!
If you are a foodie like me, and you find yourself in Mexico City, do yourself and your stomach a favor and head to Pujol. The money and time are well worth this culinary masterpiece of a meal!
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