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Helen Rosner

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Who's Who in the Mexico City Restaurant World

The most important chefs and restaurateurs to know for dining in DF

There are probably more than a few visitors to Mexico City who land at the airport thinking the food scene is 99 percent street food, 1 percent Enrique Olvera. But there's a lot more to know. The resumes of the city's top chefs and restaurateurs tell the story of a city in culinary motion — the names here represent some of the most influential forces shaping the gastronomic evolution of one of the most exciting restaurant cities in the world.

Ricardo Muñoz Zurita

Researcher and chef/owner of the Azul Restaurant Group
Zurita literally wrote the book on Mexican food. He started working on the comprehensive Diccionario Enciclopédico de la Gastronomía Mexicana in the 1980s, when fine dining in DF meant adhering to French ingredients or French technique. With his book now in its second edition, the influence of this Mexico City restaurateur on the way chefs approach Mexican cuisine all over the world is undeniable.

Enrique Olvera

Chef/owner of Pujol, Moxi, and more
Olvera has been one of the highest-profile chefs in Mexico City since the 2000 opening of Pujol, DF's most famous fine dining restaurant. In the years since then, he’s expanded the empire of his restaurant group, Grupo Enrique Olvera, to include the casual Moxi as well the New York City restaurant Cosme. He's also the founder of the food conference Mesamérica (which regularly hosts big name chefs from around the world).

Patricia Quintana

Writer, chef, professor
Quintana’s name is synonymous with Mexican cuisine as we know it today. The chef and scholar has been authoring cookbooks on the subject since the '80s, she's the force behind the country’s first culinary institute, and was the chef of celebrated restuarant Izote, a benchmark for Mexican alta cocina, for 13 years until its shutter in 2013.

Gabriela Cámara

Chef/owner of Contramar, Entremar, MeroToro, Barracuda Diner, and more
Star restaurateur Cámara made a name for herself in the form of tuna tostadas at the hip, elegant Contramar. Since opening her flagship — which has spent years at the top of almost everyone's must-visit lists — she's built a DF restaurant empire and, most recently, expanded to the states with Cala, in San Francisco.

Edgar Nuñez

Chef/owner of Sud 777, Kokeshi, Burger Lab, and Barra Vieja
After studying in France and staging at big-name restaurants like Noma, Nuñez returned to his home city and became a big-name chef in his own right. After opening trendy Sud 777, a high-end restaurant cooking local ingredients with international influences, Nuñez made the jump to casual dining with his food trucks, Barra Vieja and Burger Lab, and founded the Mexican Food Trucks Association.

Elena Reygadas

Chef/owner of Rosetta and Panadería Rosetta
Reygadas arguably became Mexico City’s most beloved baker in 2010, when she opened Rosetta, an elegant, Italian-influenced restaurant where buzz over her house-made loaves quickly built to a roar. Shortly thereafter, she opened her cafe, Panadería Rosetta, which serves some of DF's most remarkable pastries, and also began supplying bread to restaurants throughout the city.

Mónica Patiño

Television personality and chef/owner of La Taberna del León, Delirio, and Casa Virginia
The renaissance woman of the DF food scene, Patiño has dipped her toes into just about every culinary pool. After graduating from L'École de Cuisine in the '70s, she moved back to Mexico and opened her first venture, La Taberna del León. Patiño has gone on to publish cookbooks, host television shows, consult for companies like Aeroméxico, and open two more restaurants of her own.

Eduardo García

Chef/owner of Máximo Bistrot and Lalo
After working under Enrique Olvera for years at Pujol, García eventually left to open Máximo Bistrot — a perpetually packed, French-inspired spot — with his wife, Gabriela. After its great success, García opened a second spot right across the street. Unlike his first spat, Lalo is casual and funky, but like Máximo, it's also constantly full.

Martha Ortiz

Chef/owner of Dulce Patria
Martha Ortiz’s first Mexico City restaurant, the celebrated Águila y Sol, was shut down by officials in 2008 for not having enough parking. After bouncing back from a subsequent legal battle, she reentered the scene with Dulce Patria, an unabashedly intellectual restaurant that balances the traditional and the modern, with handcrafted furniture and fabrics and poetically plated dishes.

Pablo Salas

Chef/owner of Amaranta
Located an hour outside of DF, Salas’ Amaranta has been a destination worth the trek since its opening in 2010. The chef cooks almost exclusively with ingredients native to Toluca and the state of México, making for a truly memorable experience.

Jorge Vallejo

Chef/owner of Quintonil and Fonda Fina
Vallejo moves in sync with the rapidly changing Mexican gastronomy scene. His time working with Enrique Olvera informs the mood at his flagship restaurant, the elegant Quintonil, where the menu — like that at Pujol — pays homage to traditional Mexican cuisine within the framework of contemporary gastronomy.

Header photo: Tuna tostadas at Contramar, by Helen Rosner

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