While Mexico’s essence can be seen from the top of its ancient pyramids, found washed up on its beautiful beaches, and happened upon while wandering its colonial streets, nowhere is it more vibrant than on the stove tops and in the ovens of the country’s finest chefs.
You will need more than one visit to taste it all, however, as the latest wave of culinary talent has brought their inventive cuisine to every corner of Mexico, plating their creations in stunning restaurants that the rival the world’s best.
It all begins in Chiapas, where chefs such as Daniel Ovadia of Paxia have flocked to discover the flavors and ingredients of native Chiapas cuisine, bringing their local knowledge back to kitchens across Mexico.
Chiapas isn’t simply an exporter, however, with regional icons like Marta Zepeda, the owner of Tierra y Cielo, Manolo Nájera, the so-called ambassador of Chiapas gastronomy, and Ricardo Muñoz Zurita, arguably the most important Mexican food investigator, helping to bring innovative nouvelle cuisine to the region.
Casa de Sierra Nevada’s Sazon culinary school offers a terrific experience for first-hand foodies, but if you are simply looking to sit back and savor, then Rosewood San Miguel De Allende’s signature restaurant, 1826—helmed by Executive Chef Victor Manuel Palma—offers the perfect edible escape in La Cava, the property’s 800-bottle wine cellar.
Adding even more to the region’s reputation, organic food-focused boutique hotel, Hacienda Purísima de Jalpa, recently recruited Enrique Farjeat, one of the chefs who helped make Mexican gastronomy’s recent UNESCO nomination possible, to captain their kitchens.
A short trip south brings travelers to the fine-dining destination that is Mexico City, where restaurants like Pujol and Biko serve as global ambassadors of Mexico’s culinary prowess. Jorge Vallejo—once a protégé of Pujol’s very own Enrique Olvera—is looking to rearrange the hierarchy, however, with his burgeoning establishment, Quintonil.
Jaír Téllez furthers Mexico City’s culinary reinvention with Merotoro, which, alongside his Ensenada outpost Laja, makes Téllez the only chef on earth with two restaurants on San Pellegrino’s coveted list of the 50 best restaurants in Latin America.
Meanwhile, in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, Oaxaca has crafted an entirely unique culinary reputation thanks to a series of trending restaurants and the sublimely talented chefs who occupy them. José Manolo Baños is a member of this culinary new guard, crafting intricate cuisine at the acclaimed Pitiona.
But while others chefs may stop at the kitchen, Baños leads guests on a gastronomic tour of Oaxaca, highlighting the regional techniques of the ancient Mixtec culture, as well those of his mother and grandmother. Foodies looking for a second stop in the area should book a table at Casa Crespo, the latest venture from celebrated chef Oscar Carrizosa.
Mexico’s myriad of resort meccas have kept pace in the kitchen as well, turning up the heat from Cabo to Cancun. The latter calls one of Mexico’s most exciting chefs, Jonatan Gomez-Luna Torres, its own, welcoming him back to his home country after a stint working for Alinea in Chicago.
Torres has brought his talents to Azul Sensatori Mexico, plating inventive cuisine at the ostentatious Le Chique that is sure to provide the perfect end to a day enjoyed beside Quintana Roo’s warm Caribbean waters.