Pujol is one of Mexico’s leading restaurants and the brainchild of the world-famous Chef Enrique Olvera. It is his flagship restaurant, awarded with several awards and acclaimed as one of the world’s best restaurants, and a must for every foodie visiting Mexico. Enrique Olvera could be considered as the chef that put Mexican fine-dining, or even the Mexican cuisine, on the culinary world map.
Enrique Olvera was born in Mexico City in 1976 and spent several years in the USA, finishing his studies at New York’s Culinary Institute of America. Before he returned to his hometown and founded Pujol (the name is derived from Pozole, Enrique’s nickname in high school), the chef worked in Chicago at restaurant Everest. Enrique manages no less than 8 restaurants today, from Mexico City to New York City. The chef discovered his passion for gastronomy while cooking for friends and family. He experimented with more creative, innovative styles of cooking, but returned to a style where he emphases the traditional Mexican Cuisine. Pure and natural ingredients, and true Mexican flavours and preparations, is what one may expect at Pujol. For more insight into the chef’s cooking philosophy and love for the Mexican cuisine, make sure to watch the episode of ‘Chef’s Table’ before your visit to Pujol.
The restaurant moved to a brand new location in 2017 in the affluent area of Polanco in Mexico City. The team spent two years building the new restaurants and today, it is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Mexico City. Tucked away in a tranquil street behind a wooden fence, the new Pujol is divided into an outdoor and indoor section. While the design might look serene and minimalistic at first, it becomes atmospherically and warm during your meal. Perfection is in the details and Enrique Olvera surely is a master of details. From the sunken floor behind the bar that enhances eye contact between the guests and the bartenders, to the subtle lighting and the clean architecture: nothing is left to a change. All of the interior materials come from Mexico and the use of the concrete stone, lots of wood and metal emphasise the Mexican atmosphere. Guests can enjoy their meal at one of the tables in one of the two dining rooms, at the bar (for the new Omakase menu), or even in the cosy outdoor garden. The restaurant seats up to 75 people and has double shifts for lunch and dinner. Indeed, that adds up to 300 people per day – impressive! Fun and casual fine dining are important aspects at the new Pujol and music sets the atmosphere – in the dining rooms as well as the kitchen. That kitchen is 100% Mexican in the new Pujol, too. A large central island forms the heart of the kitchen and everything is cooked on a wood grill and finished in the oven. A big Comal is used to make fresh tortillas and there is an outside brick oven as well. Indeed, smoke and the flavour of wood are two important aspects of Enrique’s kitchen today.
Enrique Olvera is using mainly Mexican ingredients and all his dishes come with a clear national signature. The courses can be both traditional, using recipes more than 100 years old with dozens of ingredients, as well as contemporary, sometimes combining only a few ingredients. The chef uses modern techniques to perfect his dishes, but the basis definitely is traditional Mexican. The tasting menu contains around 6 dishes and some of the classics, like the Mole Madre, which combines a ‘living’ mole (1452 days old on the day we visited in December 2017) with a freshly made mole, remain on the menu. The new Omakase menu puts tacos at the centre and can be enjoyed at the bar in the heart of the restaurant. It combines great tacos such as the lamb taco, with lamb from the barbacoa combined with salsa borracha and fresh herbs, with more creative servings such as the signature ‘elote’, or baby corn, covered in Costeno chili mayonnaise and powder of Chicatana ants and coffee. When weather permits, the desserts can be enjoyed outside and ending your meal with a traditional hot Mexican chocolate and freshly made, crispy churros is wonderful experience.
Over the past years, The Mexican cuisine and restaurants located in Mexico have been more and more recognised all over the world. Chef Enrique Olvera definitely is one of the key figures in this movement and his restaurant Pujol remains at the forefront of the heart of contemporary Mexican Cuisine. Plain and simple, Pujol remains one of the most essential reservations for food lovers visiting Mexico.
Written by Sven