This country’s love affair with Mexican fare is unwavering, but in our collective hunt for “what’s next?,” exploring regionality here promises menu differentiation. Mexico’s food culture is rich and storied—and as varied as its beautiful geography. Replication isn’t the goal. Instead, chefs are discovering regional Mexican flavors, ingredients and dishes, then bending them toward their brand sensibility.
This seafood-heavy cuisine boasts immigrant influences from China and Russia, along with a Baja-Med mash-up vibe that’s ripe for exploration. The Caesar salad was invented here, as was the margarita. And, of course, Baja fish tacos hail from these parts, paving the way for serious seafood taco innovation with their craveable combination of grilled or battered fish, slaw and pico, all tucked into a corn or flour tortilla. The opportunity here sees creative interpretation of Baja’s cuisine.
- Fish Taco—Grilled fish topped with jicama-carrot slaw, salsa verde, chipotle aïoli and cilantro
El Rey, Washington D.C.
- Crispy Fish Taco—Alaskan cod, tempura, spicy tartar, smoked cabbage, scallions, sesame
Antique Taco, Chicago
Known for its beautifully complex mole varieties, from red and green to black and yellow, exploration of Oaxaca cuisine has really taken off over the last few years. Other Oaxacan favorites include mezcal, tequila’s smoky cousin, along with empanadas, chorizo, escabeche (vegetables marinated in vinegar) and the pasilla chile pepper. Oaxacan cheese has also move into mainstream, thanks to its similarity to mozzarella.
- Tamales with chicken and mole negro
Oaxacali, Los Angeles
- Aztec Shrimp Ceviche made with shrimp, grilled cactus leaves, avocado, Serrano and pasilla peppers
Cinco Tacos Cocina & Tequila, Dallas
As with most urban centers, Mexico City is a melting pot of food cultures from across the country. Its street food is particularly vibrant, with taco stands, torta shops and lunch counters influencing the foodie vibe—and lending an urban sensibility to all of Mexico’s most craveable dishes. Tapping into the food scene here helps translate authenticity with a built-in mash-up sensibility.
- Mushroom Tacos: Crispy melted cheese, garlic braised seasonal mushrooms, stone fruit jalapeño salsa, pickled onion, hearts on fire
Puesto, based in Southern California
- Cheesy Corn-Masa Quesadillas, Mexico-City Style: Crispy black pepper-corn masa “turnovers” filled with artisan Jack cheese and epazote, served with avocado-tomatillo salsa
Frontera Grill, Chicago