Guzina Oaxaca (Mexico City)
Oaxacan food is praised throughout Mexico for its rich moles, umami-rich insects, stewed meats, and deep nuances. Guzina Oaxaca (translated: Oaxaca Cuisine) is by proprietor/chef Alejandro Ruíz. Chef Ruíz is a native from Oaxaca and opened this restaurant in the affluent neighborhood of Polanco in 2014, to have the Mexico City natives (and tourists) believe in the fact that Oaxacan food can be upscale, despite the fact it’s culturally rich. The restaurant is decorated like I’m in an elegant beach-type of restaurant – light colors of creamy beige, soft greens, and warm wood, embroidered pillows; green cantera stone salt cellars and sleek glass carafes for aguas frescas.
The mission of the restaurant is striving for authenticity. As with Casa Oaxaca, the menu mixes both what Mr. Ruíz grew up on and his personal tastes. Twice a week, a truck makes the six-hour drive from the southern region to Mexico City to deliver dozens of ingredients. They bring everything from hierba de conejo, chepiche, tlayudas, chocolate — anything that is made from Oaxacan ingredients.
We came in for a late lunch. As we waited for our cocktails to arrive, we had mashed expertly in a tableside molcajete, mixed morita and costeño chiles with tomatillos and tomatoes (my iPhone video of the process). The salsa was delicious, very vibrant flavors, a touch of smokiness and just spicy enough (we requested mild) to give a pleasant sting.
Our drinks were a clean, easy to drink mojito made with gin. A tamarind mezcalini that was mixed with pineapple, lime and mezcal that had the earthy, sharp tartness of the fruit and smoke from the mezcal. The Gasolina el de Pulque was a fruity, pleasantly tart cocktail made of mezcal, soursop, guava, and passion fruit served from an adorable ceramic vessel shaped like a small gas can.
The ceviche had an earthy smokiness from the crushed chili peppers were prevalent without being too spicy but the tuna fish was clean and held up to the red onions, acidity and seasonings. The fried baby zucchini flowers on toast were very good. Nice balance of sweet and savory from the touch of sweet squash puree on top.
The suckling pork belly tacos with salsa verde and chicharrón were easy to love. The supple pork meat that’s moist and the salsa verde gave the taco a sharp spicy punch to contrast the richness of the taco. The most brilliant part though were the chicharrón to add a crunchy texture to the softness of the taco. (I would eat that entire plate, if I were dining solo.)
Shortly arrived an Oaxcan food sampler plate filled with Oaxacan cheeses, chicharrón, tostada with black bean puree, fried crickets, grilled pork ribs, skirt steak, and chicken. Tlayuda, a classic Oaxacan snack consisting of black bean puree and cheese on a tortilla. The sheets of crispy chicharrón were one of my friend’s favorite but I was drawn to the fried crickets. I know eating insects are not the typical protein someone from New York City would eat but it’s very delicious. It’s nutty, inherently grassy and clean tasting and it’s good to mix with a touch of their salsa and a touch of queso fresco.
There are several moles we tried. Mr. Ruíz says he tweaks occasionally to reflect different regional variations. The mole negro tasted a bit too mellow and sweet. The mole poblano is similar to black mole, using many of the same spices and base ingredients and also contains chocolate, but less and a little more spicier.
To finish up the meal, we had cups of lovely Oaxacan hot chocolate that’s lighter and not too intense with spices. The Oaxan-style coffee had lovely warm spices to accentuate the coffee and a gentle sweetness. The two desserts we had was a corn cake with coconut oil powder, Oaxacan sorbet with dulce de leche and a nicuatole topped with cochineal sugar. The corn cake was moist and delicately sweet and the sorbet was really good with the Oaxacan chocolate flavor and creaminess (though it’s sorbet).
The nicuatole is a firm, corn-based custard topped with the red-purple hued sugar made of the crushed cochineal insect, imparting a slightly bitter flavor. It’s unique and I liked it.
Overall, this meal was very good. Service was friendly and they are willing to answer any questions. Most of the front of the house staff speaks English well (if this is a need). This meal makes me curious of visiting Oaxaca itself.
To view more photos of this visit, please view the gallery below or CLICK HERE for the photo set:
Av. Pdte. Masaryk 513
Ciudad de Mexico, CDMX, Mexico
Phone: +52 55 5280 3574