Sea bass ceviche tacomade with hoja santa tortilla and black bean purée
Francisco Petrarca 254, Polanco, Mexico City
+52 55 5545 3507
When chef Enrique Olvera opened Pujol almost 14 years ago, the budget was so small that his wife had to paint the walls. Things have changed somewhat at what is now Mexico’s number one restaurant, and Olvera the nation’s best-known chef. Diners in the 48-seat room are now served by a formidable platoon of 27 cooks, including stagieres culled from across the world.
But the food has changed as well. When he was fresh from graduating at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, Olvera created a menu renowned for delicate elaborations on classic dishes. Today, Pujol is one of the leading exponents of new Mexican gastronomy, deeply immersed in the republic’s cultural legacy. Some dishes utilise time-honoured native seasonings, from agave and chayote to the rare chilhuacle chilli. Dried insects also feature heavily, from Olvera’s favourite toasted ant larvae to grasshoppers, such as the grasshopper salsa that accompanies the hidden egg in inflated tortilla.
Other ingredients are purely market-inspired, from frogs’ legs to a dessert of 20-day-old banana. Olvera’s R+D staff are constantly reworking traditional dishes into new permutations, but it’s never a case of evolution for the sake of evolution: the cooking here is grounded in the country’s inextricably rich food culture. Despite his huge success, Olvera keeps his feet firmly on the ground, and the near-perfect equilibrium between forward-thinking cooking and restraint he achieves makes Pujol the best Mexico has to offer.
It has also earned Olvera a coveted and well-deserved accolade from his fellow elite professionals across the region – the Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Telefonica, and voted for by the chefs of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.