Ivan Garcia is a traditional guy. The Mesa Coyoacan chef still uses the same recipes he learned cooking with his mom and grandmother in Mexico City. Among them: chiles en nogada, a roasted poblano packed with shredded pork, organic chicken, peaches, pears, apples, and almonds and dotted with pomegranate seeds.
In honor of their favorite Bay Area eatery, Gordo Taqueria, brothers Leo and Oliver Kremer created a similarly simple menu of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. The New York Times’ Oliver Strand was surprised to find the quesadilla was his favorite, admiring how the spicy jack-cheese concoction “keeps its crunch until the last bite.”
The appeal of this taqueria lies in its atypical selection of meats. Tripe or steamed tongue fill tacos, salted beef bulks up huaraches, and octopus gets entangled in salad greens. Cemitas, a Mexican sandwich, might be layered with pork leg or chicken Milanese, and cow feet can cap a trio of tostadas.
Chef Ramiro Mendez left trendy Tribeca restaurant El Teddy's to open De Mole, whose appetizer list New York Magazine adores. Mole con pollo or rajas con queso fill fresh corn tamales, and ceviche de Veracruz infuses sea scallops or fish with limejuice, jalapenos, and avocados.
At Tortilleria Nixtamal, tortillas are not a mere container for ingredients, but an important element of a meal’s flavor. The staff makes theirs fresh, beginning at 4:00 each morning by grinding corn for the dough. Patrons can get just the tortillas to go, or order them as tacos filled with onion-sautéed steak or pulled pork with cilantro.
Peer into the open kitchen and you'll spot cooks making some unusual dishes—tripe-and-tongue tacos with cactus and jalapenos, for instance, or fresh empanadas with blueberries and goat cheese. It seems Mauricio Gomez's effort to replicate the flavors of his native Mexico City is working: the New York Times highlighted the eatery as a favorite of the ‘hood’s predominantly Latino population.
Chef Mario Hernandez started out cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen as a boy, but his style now is decidedly grown up. At Ofrenda, he layers pickled onions on goat enchiladas, pairs pan-seared scallops with yucca croquettes, and sweetens sirloin steak with pilonsillo chipotle glaze.
At La Flor, chef Viko Ortega has created a balance of Mexican, French, and Italian flavors, preparing Oaxaca-cheese pizzas alongside quesadillas with marinated pork. Entrees rotate seasonally, but have included braised lamb shank in Mexican spices and jumbo shrimp with corn-scampi sauce.
Many of the dishes at Boca Chica hit the grill before reaching diners’ tables, including crispy chicken wings seasoned with Dominican spices. Tostones sizzle beside grilled pork chops, yucca fries pair with a chicken-and-avocado sandwich, and chimichurri sauce blankets grilled skirt steak.
Deal or no deal, our editors strongly recommend these businesses based on their reputation, popularity, and quality of service.