Oaxaca is a charming and exciting city in Mexico, located a 5-hour drive or a 1-hour flight from Mexico City. With many art galleries scattered around the city, it is often considered as the artistic highlight of Mexico. Where there is art and culture, there is gastronomy, and Oaxaca surely is no exception to that rule. The city is particularly known for its traditional recipes like mole sauces but there is so much more than that. Oaxaca’s food scene is among Mexico’s most inventive and a new legion of young chefs is transforming the culinary landscape and inserting it with creativity. El Destilado is one of them.
El Destilado is managed by Jason Cox, Joseph Gilbert and Julio Aguilera. Joseph and Julio worked together at the famous restaurant Saison in San Fransisco. Joseph met Jason on a ‘Mescal-investigation’ trip in Oaxaca. Together they opened up El Destilado as a creative bar/restaurant in 2016 and asked Julio to manage the kitchen shortly after. Mescal still is an important part of their project and the trio even launched their own Mescal brand ‘5 sentidos’. The brand actually is a selection of Mescals the boys identify, and rebottle, from artisanal Mescal distilleries (mostly from around Oaxaca). When visiting El Destilado, make sure to sample one of their bottles.
At El Destilado, chef Julio Aguilera combines his love for the Mexican cuisine and its ingredients with his expertise of fine-dining which he gained at the 3 Michelin starred Saison. Guests have the choice between an interesting à la carte menu with mostly dishes to share, a 9-course tasting menu, or a Chef’s menu containing 12 to 14 courses. Make sure to make a reservation for these tasting menus in advance. Creativity is at the core of Julio’s cooking and while the ingredients are Mexican, his dishes reminded us of the more innovative tasting menus of Spain and Western-Europe. Tartar of huachinango fish was served on a crispy cracker of rice and combined with chipotle sauce. Tomatoes came in different textures, completed by a broth of tomatoes that enhanced complexness of the dish, and fish structures. As an intermezzo the chef served a delicious melon sorbet with salted coriander seeds.
For the full experience, complete your meal with pairing drinks from the bar. The tasting menus can be extended with beverage pairings, offering a chance to travel throughout the liquid landscape of Mexico & beyond. From artisanal beer to Mexican saké, from natural Mexican wines to Mescal. Highly recommended.
El Destilado is one of the restaurants that make Mexican Cuisine move. Jason Cox and Joseph Gilbert serve their guests with funkiness and passion and offer some of the best cocktails and mescals in Oaxaca. Chef Julio Aguilera serves creative, delicious dishes with the best ingredients Mexico has to offer. A no-nonsense Rock & Roll gourmet experience in the heart of one of Mexico’s most captivating cities.
Written by Sven