The Taste of Mexico’s mission is to highlight regional Mexican cuisine, while preserving its flavors and traditions. The huge event at Plaza de Cultura y Artes last weekend definitely delivered, featuring cuisine from Oaxaca, Yucatan, Sonora, and even adding a Baja Gastronomic Pavilion. Besides established restaurants, the city’s best taco trucks and pop-ups were among the 60 vendors.
There were a number of delicious ceviches. Chichen Itza went with a yellowtail ceviche and your choice of conch or uni. I asked for both; you only live once, and Taste of Mexico only happens once a year. Carpe diem! Chef Esdras Ochoa of the much-lauded Mexicali & Co and Salazar, got creative with a beef ceviche he called Carne Apache. Known to the rest of us as beef tartare, the dish came with bonus uni served on a flavorful cheese crisp.
One of the best ceviches was unsurprisingly from Ceviche Project. They presented a small plate of tuna, corn, seaweed, jicama, cilantro, serrano, onion radish and pineapple. I felt around for a chip, a tulle, a cracker, something to transport all of the goodness into my mouth, but there was nothing. So I leaned forward and ate it like I was in a pie-eating contest. When the person next to me requested utensils, he was told to fold the disposable plate in half and let it slide into his mouth.
It wouldn’t be a Mexican celebration without tacos. We especially loved Cochina Condesa’s Brisket Tacos, Frida’s al pastor, and Sonoratown’s mesquite grilled short-rib tacos. The line was long waiting for the lobster tacos from Cocinas y Calaveras. But people were missing out, because they ignored their carnitas taco, which was possibly the best taco on the night, even the year!
The Chori Man was another favorite. Their green chorizo got its color from poblano chile and the taco got its heat from Baserikko’s Salsa Macha. La Tostadería’s tacos in a jicama wrap made for a perfect, healthy, no-carb snack. Cochinita Pibil is always a favorite, and the version from Candela was no exception.
One surprising “sleeper” hit was the creamy and flavorful crema de asparagus soup from Candela. Anepalco made cute little baby elotes with chile de arbol, aioli, cotija and chapulines (it translates to grasshoppers, but they look like crickets to me). It was especially fun watching them use the butane torch to caramelize the baby corn. Tlayuda LA’s namesake Oaxacan tlayudas were almost like tostadas, but with a baked tortilla. They were topped with dried, grilled beef. Gueleguetza served posole with all of the traditional toppings. And we were very pleased to get a fried squash blossom from Casa Oaxaca.
We finished up with Pan de Muertos from Monarca Bakery and Abuelita’s jellied desserts and little tres leches cakes, and of course churros from The Churro Man.
Guests enjoyed drinks from Estrella Jalisco’s Beer Cantina Bar, Mezcalería Craft Cocktail bars, and the Tequila Tasting Tent while dancing the night away to the cumbia DJ collective Metralleta de Oro and Son Jarocho band. Billy Bennight commented on the headliner, saying, “Conjunto Nueva Ola are obviously trouble makers and masked heartbreakers.”