With the undeniable boom in mezcal, an enduring love of sugar skulls and even a dedicated guacamole and tequila bar opening up in London, it’s clear that here in the UK, we’re still all about the Mexican vibe.
With that in mind, Mexico-based writer and all-round expert on the country, Susannah Rigg, details the latest food and drinks trends currently making waves in Mexico City.
So read on for a head start on the gastronomic delights soon heading our way, including the newest in culinary chic, the best in meat-free Mexican and the spirit we’ll all be sipping come 2018.
Stand aside mezcal: here comes sotol
Over the last six years or so, mezcal has grown in popularity, evolving from the cheap spirit that was taken to parties in plastic petrol cans to the high-class artisanal, and often pricey, tipple now in high demand worldwide. This evolution has got producers looking to other traditional drinks from around Mexico too, and some of the trendiest bars in the country’s capital have started to stock a selection of sotol.
Produced in the northern desert areas of Mexico, from a cactus called Dasylirion, it was originally a ceremonial drink of the indigenous people of that area. Now, this mystical spirit with woody and earthy notes is the preferred option for those in the know.
Want to sip on Sotol with the city’s trendiest? Head to La Nacional Cantina y Restaurante, Orizaba 161, Roma Norte
Once a barren land for the non-meat eater, vegan visitors to Mexico City no longer need to forgo trying the local delicacies. Vegan taco stands and restaurants are appearing across the city, offering meatless versions of Mexican favourites like Tacos al Pastor and a whole variety of tortas (Mexico’s very delicious street-food sandwich).
Other local ingredients like hibiscus flowers and nopal cactus also make exciting appearances in this new form of Mexican food, which is gaining in popularity across the city. With the UK’s documented increased interest in vegan and vegetarian fare, it’s surely a trend that will travel.
Where to go meat-free in Mexico City? Gatorta-Torteria Vegana, Puebla 182, Roma Norte
It’s a bug’s life
Bugs and insects have been eaten for centuries across Mexico but up until recently, you wouldn’t find them making their way into high-end restaurants. Nowadays considered a delicacy, many critters – such as flying ants that only appear for two days out of the year – sell for a much as £50 a kilo.
Read more: The top food and drink trends of 2017
From trendy artisanal beer bars serving up grasshopper tacos to high-class restaurants plating up cocopaches (a large beetle which looks very much like a cockroach) accompanied with ricotta cheese and squash blossoms, the city is simply crawling with edible insects.
And with a few insect-based rumblings in the UK of late, don’t be surprised if Mexican bugs make their way onto a plate near you soon.
If you are feeling brave, head to Limosneros, Ignacio Allende 3, Historic Centre
All about Oaxacan
Despite Oaxaca being considered by many to be the culinary capital of Mexico, the influx of Oaxacan restaurants in Mexico City is a relatively recent phenomenon. It seems that residents of the capital have gained a taste for the subtle flavours of the southern state’s cuisine and want to enjoy it on their doorstep.
From tlayudas (a large crispy tortilla topped with lard, beans, Oaxaca cheese, lettuce and avocado) to garnachas (a thick fried corn cake layered with beans and pickled vegetables) these restaurants have it all – plus unlimited mezcal of course. It won’t be long before the UK catches on.
If you want to sample the flavours of Oaxaca head to Comixcal, Dr. Atl 176, Santa Maria la Ribera
Mexican food (but not as you know it)
For years, Mexican food was thought of as street food or those comforting creamy, sauced dishes, made by the Mexican grandmother – but it’s not all the heavy plates and snack food you may be used to.
It’s been almost 20 years now since Enrique Olvera opened Pujol and helped to guide the way towards Mexican haute cuisine. He took traditional dishes and played with them, made them finer, lighter, more delicate. His restaurant wasn’t an immediate success but with time, he and other local chefs have worked to change the face of Mexican cuisine.
And they did such a good job that Mexico City now boasts two restaurants in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List (one of which is, of course, Pujol) – so look forward to an increase in such precise, refined offerings in 2018.
Where to enjoy some of Mexico’s finest foods: Pujol, Tennyson 133, Polanco
Susannah Rigg is a freelance writer and Mexico specialist based in Mexico City. She is the founder of award-winning blog Mexico Retold.
Images: see captions