Monday, August 20, 2018

The Hot List: 50 New Things to Eat and Drink In SMA

We love it when chefs travel; returning from the road with plenty of inspiration for new dishes and cuisine.
Remember when Chef Donnie Masterton was doing an extensive tasting tour of Morocco two years ago; the upshot of that trip is SMA’s latest gem, Cafe Casa Blanca. Fatima is set to open shortly.

Chef Marcela Bolano recently took a trip to Asia and is slowly introducing some Vietnamese and Thai flavors to her all Mediterranean menus. The flavors are as authentic as any of the Vietnamese restaurants we use to frequent on Argyle Street in Chicago.

Chefs Gonzalo Martinez and Erick Rojo recently spent time in some of the best kitchens in Lima, Peru; now they’re offering some Peruvian style dishes on the menu - some of the best food we’ve eaten at Quince.
Chef Magda Elisa Pablos of El Vergel Bistro and Market has an invitation to cook this month at Atria, Island dining in Martha's Vineyard so she's been researching seasonal produce and local seafood to plan her menus. She traveled to both Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco this year to learn more about seafood. The catch of the day will encourage her to bring back new dishes for your El Vergel experience.

For a month and a half, Chef Greta Ortega Casanas of MiVida cooked with a chef in Piemonte, Italy; a small town near Barolo. Now, she’s changed up her menu to include the breads, pastas and traditional Italian dishes she learned to make there, launched an Italian deli and created an open air dining room to savor all the new flavors.

Chef Mariano Alvarez of Buenos Aires Bistro has been on the road and seen a lot of new things. He says Mexican street food in California is better than ever. Some of the best restaurants have gone to a more casual atmosphere, serving “street” versions of their higher end dishes. In Argentina, street food moves up, from streets or country settings to brick and mortar locations. More restaurants in the city there are also using firewood to cook. After seeing all of this, Mariano, who is somewhat of a purist, is now open to mixing Mexican flavors and techniques with his Argentinean style of cooking.

Having done a tasting tour of Paris, Berlin, Prague, Barcelona, London, Rome, Venice and Milan, Chefs Marco Cruz and Sofia Antillon of Nomada cocina de interpretacion returned to SMA confident they’re on the right path. They said on a global stage, Mexican food is one of the most talked about cuisines in the world. It was the Chelsea Market in NYC that recently made an impact on both of them. Chef Antillon says she still dreams about the perfect tuna she ate there, while a hamachi entree impressed Chef Cruz so much that he created his own variation of the Japanese dish at Nomada cocina de interpretacion.

Chef Xavier Piñero Moreno of Ocre discovered a whole new world inside his kitchen this year. He's stayed close to home to focus on a newly opened OCRE but consistently devours reading materials on food and travel, watches documentary films and is experimenting with new recipes. At 27, he's one of SMA’s remarkable new, young chefs.

Like travel, a childhood memory, an aroma or a special place can generate the inspiration for a new dish. Chef Linnea Rufo decided when she went to Italy, she would eat all the fresh pasta she could. Her first night in Rome, she came across a small, enchanting restaurant on a cobblestone back street. Matthew, her server, talked her into the daily special: egg spaghetti with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, tossed with Sea Urchin and topped with caviar. The chef is back in SMA now, ready to invest in a pasta machine so she can recreate the best dish she’s ever eaten. 
Developing new recipes is no easy task. Chef Sofia Antillon says when she’s creating a dish, it’s always about the flavors first. Unlike many chefs, all the information is stored in her head; she takes no notes when she’s working on a new recipe. She also said her husband, Chef Marco Cruz, never thinks about his plantings’ ahead of time; he does them in the moment.
With a lot of new cuisine and dishes hitting the menus this year, all we can say is stay hungry SMA; we’re promising you 50 more before the end of the year.
Buen Provecho! 

Alambre Chocolate Clams and Beets and Peanut Butter Salad

Top Sirloin Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce
Eggs and Carbonara

Chef Marco Cruz’s Alambre clams come with bacon, and plenty of it, along with Oaxaca cheese, onions and bell peppers; it was one of our favorite seafood dishes from Nomada’s Second Anniversary dinner. Who doesn’t love beets when the base is a smear of peanut butter; an unusual combination only Chef Marco Cruz can pull off. An incredible new dish on the dinner menu is the top sirloin steak with truffle oil and blue cheese cream or try an obscenely delicious eggs and carbonara for breakfast. Go for the gold; don’t miss the chef’s tasting menu every Wednesday; it’s the best in SMA.
Nomada cocina de interpretacion
Hernandez Macias #88
Monday and Wednesday - Saturday: 9 AM - 10 PM
Sunday: 9 AM - 6 PM
Tuesday: Closed
Chef: Marco Cruz

Pho Bo
Vietnamese Noodle Salad
Coming off her recent trip to Southeast Asia, Chef Marcela Bolaño gives you the deep, rich Vietnamese flavors of Pho with a broth that's so complex, you'll swear you’ve just been transported to Ho Chi Minh City. Take your choice of either Pho Bo (Short Rib and Oxtail) or Pho Chay (Vegan); they’re both delicious. Enjoyable in any weather, you can adjust the heat with the board of toppings that accompany every bowl. Chef Marcela Bolaño also put her own touch on this Vietnamese noodle salad with a perfect balance of tastes, textures, and temperatures. Made with caramelized smoked pork and crunchy shallots, the flavors are as authentic as the chef.
Marsala cocina con acentos
Calle del Dr Ignacio Hernandez Macias #48
Monday, Wednesday - Saturday: 1 PM - 10 PM
Sunday: 11 AM - 5 PM

Tuesday: Closed
Dog Friendly
Chef: Marcela Bolano
Smoked Chicken
French Onion Soup

Smoked Chicken Sandwich
If its chicken you’re craving, the slow smoked essence of Bovine’s chicken is definitely worth the wait. Chef Miguel Nunez recently put soup and sandwich combinations on the lunch menu. This chicken sandwich is made with Bovine’s smoked chicken, along with a secret sauce that incorporates eggs into the mix. For anyone who can’t live without French onion soup, this is our soup of choice with plenty of sherry flavoring. It’s more like a cheese sandwich than it is a soup. We actually couldn’t decide what our favorite was - the soup or the sandwich. This new combo is now on our short list of the five best things to eat in SMA.
Tuesday: 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Wednesday - Sunday: 1:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Closed Monday

Executive Chef: Paul Bentley
Chef: Miguel Alejandro Nuñez Salas
Duck Dumplings

Siu Mai

These dumplings are beyond delicious, served with an Ahi amarillo sauce made from Peruvian peppers. Chef Arturo Sandoval has been adding a lot of Asian flavors to his menu lately and so far, we’ve loved them all including the Siu mai: rice dough filled with beef tail stew, pork rinds, truffle and parmesan sauce.
Not new? We have to mention that Atrio’s Pork Belly Bao bun remains our gold standard for Asian food; we have them at least once a week. Spanish food? We love the Rib rice; our pick for the best dish in SMA last year.

Watch for a new Facebook post tomorrow; Atrio’s chef, Arturo Sandoval, has created another new dish that we think is unique. Artio tops our list with some of the best food in the city.

Atrio Restaurant and Lounge
Cuna de Allende #3
Daily: 1 PM - 11 PM

Chef: Arturo Sandoval
Chicken Liver Takitori STIX

Chicken STIX

We're excited about the new bites created by Chef Donnie Masterton – STIX – for the menu at The Bar at The Restaurant. These Asian skewers are made with Miso Salmon, Chicken, Teriyaki Beef, Veggie or Korean Pork Belly and are served with jasmine rice and Asian slaw. Our favorite is the STIX made with Chicken Liver Takitori; the best new food at the MAG festival this summer; tasting pricing shown.While you’re at The Bar at The Restaurant feasting, order a Pineapple Margarita made with Represado, pineapple juice, Controy, lemon juice and crystallized Ginger; it’s our favorite Margarita in SMA and pairs well with the Asian flavors of the STIX.

The Bar at The Restaurant
Diez de Sollano y Dávalos #16
Opening soon!

The Restaurant 
Tuesday - Wednesday : 12 Noon –10 PM
Thursday - Saturday: 12 Noon - 11 PM
Sunday: 12 Noon –10PM

Monday: Closed
Chef: Donnie Masterton
Moroccan Chilaquiles
Ribeye Meloui

We love this plate of Moroccan Chilaquiles, distinguished by a tomato-harissa sauce, feta cheese, goat yogurt, cilantro, onion and a fried egg. For a side, how about a cure-all fix for your bacon cravings: thick cut bacon covered with brown sugar and curry. We also love the Mana'esh: a flatbread with labneh cheese, tomato and mint with fried egg. In Damascus, it’s served on the street in the early morning hours just as the city is waking up. The Ribeye Meloui; well it’s our favorite Café Casa Blanca addiction… and we could go on and on about the rest of the menu. New in town, Chef J.J. Castaneda has already made his mark.
Cafe Casa Blanca
Juarez #8
Breakfast: 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM 
Comida: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM. 
Chefs: Donnie Masterton and J.J. Castaneda

Endive Salad
Thin Crust Margarita

Appropriately called a Fresh Salad, the endive is grilled and the caramelized peaches and peach dressing add some interesting flavors, along with mustard seeds, goat cheese and nasturtium. We also love their extra thin crust Margarita pizza with an optional sauce made of olive oil, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chili de arbol, pine nuts, peanuts and salt. Go for it; the sauce sounds a bit unusual but the taste is fantastic. Good food at OCRE? Ask food lovers like Rhoda Kibler and Sandy Sims who started a new trend by coming to OCRE for lunch and staying on for dinner.
Hidalgo #5
Daily 2:00 PM - 12:00 AM

Chef: Xavier Pinero Moreno
Sous Chef: Danny Duran

Costco Hot Dog

How happy are we that we can now get a COSTCO HOT DOG fix at Big John's Munch Box in San Antonio. We say JUST IN TIME since the concession stand at the Costco in Queretaro is closed for an extended period of time for remodeling.
Big John’s also offers hand cut fries, hamburgers, chili dogs, North Carolina pulled pork, Chili Cheese fries and other comfort foods; Steak sandwiches and handmade Malts are rumored to follow shortly. Look for the daily specials on Big John’s Munch Box Facebook page.
Big John's Munch Box
Refugio Sur #2, San Antonio
Monday - Friday: 12 Noon –8PM
Saturday: 12 Noon –4 PM
Sunday: Closed

Chef: John Robert Ledsome
Jugo Especial de Marchanta
Apple and Brie Sandwich

Leave it to a good chef to know how to make juice taste good. Her four juices are made from fruits and herbs; without any sugar or sweeteners. We also love her amazing Apple and Brie sandwich. The portions are big enough to split; something we like to do because there are so many things on Marchanta’s menu we want to try. The sandwich bun was baked in- house, along with other assorted pastries. No sheeting or cutting machines for this chef; she makes everything by hand.

Now we’re hoping she’ll put her family recipe for Tortas Ahogadas on the menu. We’ve had some of our best food moments with Chef Sofia Antillon.
Marchanta comedor
Nemesio Diez 2
Monday - Friday: 12–9PM
Saturday: 1–10PM
Sunday: Closed

Chef: Sofia Antillon
Baked Egg Casserole
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Eduardo Perez Calvo’s long-awaited restaurant will open soon and we’re excited with his choice of chefs: Selva Lampreabe Rosenfeld. Selva comes from a long history of restaurant owners, chefs and bakers; her mom is one of SMA’s favorite bakers, Denise Robinson. She’s cooked her entire life training for this and after doing a pre-tasting last week, we’re ready to take on her entire menu. We loved this baked egg casserole so much, it’s now our go-to dish and we’ve never been one to eat cauliflower and broccoli for breakfast. Rise and shine with these Lemon Ricotta pancakes, made with a special flour that Selva blends by hand. We know SMA will support Rustica when it opens; it fills the gap of healthy restaurants in SMA that also turn out fabulously, delicious food.
Salida a Celaya #34
Wednesday – Monday: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday: Closed
Note: Rustica will be open until 9:00 PM in about a month
Dog Friendly
Opening soon! Look for the details on Facebook.

La Unica Salad
Cauliflower with Brasas

Death by Chocolate: Chocolate brownie, chocolate mousse, caramelized acorn and vanilla ice cream with hot fudge sauce. Is this one of the best desserts in SMA? If you love chocolate, it's a yes! How about lunch? Try the La Unica Salad with Shrimp; a blend of greens with hearts of palm and avocado or a head of roasted Cauliflower with brasas. Vegetarian or not, the Cauliflower is one of the most popular dishes on La Unica’s menu. How do you split their enormous burgers? La Unica lays it on its side; a clever plating effect that looks pretty remarkable.

Our other SMA favorite at La Unica? The garden in a glass; don't miss their rooftop. 

The Rooftop at La Unica
Sollano #14
Sunday - Wednesday: 1 PM - 11 PM
Thursday - Saturday: 1 PM - 2 AM


This chef-duo’s best dish is a tortilla sandwich with refried beans and Chicharron prensado - crunchy pork skin that’s been “pressed” to squeeze out the juices and tastes a little like Chinese char siu, covered with cheese, jalapenos, avocado and an egg. It’s one of our favorite breakfast dishes this year, but then, everything these chefs make is exceptional, delicious and reasonably priced. Most of their breakfast offerings are under $120 pesos; hard to believe for the exceptional quality of their food.

Nicasio comedor mexicano 
Hidalgo 28
Sunday 9AM–5PM
Monday - Saturday 9AM–7:30PM except Tuesday closed
Chefs: Pablo Nicacio and Hugo Tepichin

Aperol Spritz

This Italian aperitif is similar to Campari but sweeter. The color is an attention-grabbing vibrant orange and has been showing up at festivals across the US this summer. Leave it to Mixologist, Adrian Garcia Evans, who’s on top of every trend, to bring the Aperol Spritz to MAG, where it became the most popular drinks at the festival. We also love his Bloody Maria, laced with horseradish and complemented by a side of bacon and other garnishing. Adrian said the Bloody Maria may go on the menu this fall as a special or possibly for Sunday brunch. In the mean time, try his Italian Lemon Martini for another fantastic summer fix.  Adrian’s cocktails, on the menus at Aperi, Jacinto 1930 and Cumpanio, are some of the best in town.   

Calle Correo #29
Monday – Sunday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Mixologist: Adrian Garcia-Evans

Mussel Casserole 
Shrimp on Rasurada
Chili Oil Octopus

With the Mexican Caribbean as her backyard, Chef Mariel Bezia refined the tropical and peppery flavors that she brings to the kitchens at Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada; they’ve come to define her cuisine. The Rasurada sauce made this shrimp dish; a combination of garlic onion soy sauce with cilantro, parsley and Serrano chilies. The Mussels were wonderful; sautéed in white wine and Manazanos chili. Chili oil sautéed octopus, mayonnaise with mustard seeds and green salad – count us in. The octopus was crispy on the outside and thoroughly tender on the inside.

Don’t forget to leave room for dessert; Pastry Chef Ruben Yanez Hernandez makes some of the best in SMA.

Restaurant Andanza at Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada Hotel
Calle Hospicio 35
Sunday - Saturday 7:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Chef: Mariel Beiza
Pastry Chef: Ruben Yanez Hernandez

Escargot with Herb Butter
Frozen Chocolate Mousse Caramel Tart

How can something swimming in butter and garlic be anything less than fabulous? Chef Magda Elisa Pablos’s frozen chocolate tart is an irresistible power couple of flavorings, chocolate and caramel, and has won our attention for one of the most delicious dessert offerings in SMA. Next time we go there, we’re breaking the rules and ordering dessert first.

 We’ve tried many new dishes in 2018; these are just two of our favorites.

El Vergel Bistro and Market
Camino la Alborada 17, Predio la Alborada, 37880
Monday: Closed
Sunday and Tuesday - Thursday: 9 AM - 6 PM
Friday and Saturday: 9 AM - 9 PM
Chef: Magda Elisa Pablos

Sous Chef: Ari Vazquez

Toast with Mascarpone, roasted tomatoes and a balsamic vinegar reduction

Who needs anything else when there’s mascarpone and balsamic? Top this with plenty of roasted tomatoes and you have one of the tastiest new appetizers in town.

Better than their Jicama Taco? How about another close second? The mascarpone is divine.

La Azotea
Umaran #6
Sunday - Saturday 1:00 PM - 12:00 AM

Eggs Benedict

What happens when a classic French hollandaise sauce with the slightest flavor of vinegar meets a Panio brioche? A perfect breakfast; we’re sure of it.

Look for Panio’s new restaurant and bakery opening this fall in the Antea Mall in Queretaro.

Panio Atelier du Pain
Salida a Celaya 69
Daily: 8 AM - 10 PM

MiVida’s Paleta Dipped In Chocolate

In Italy, chocoholics are known as ciocco-dipendenti and we’re definitely one after eating this dessert. The chocolate is Callebaut, the best Belgian chocolate made using the finest cocoa beans from West Africa. The ice cream is made in-house, using an Italian ice-cream machine shipped in from Italy. This isn’t the only remarkable dessert on their menu; we’ve tried many and loved them all. You’re going to be Italian in your next life if Chef Greta Ortega Casanas has anything to do with it. Her menu is getting a makeover and we can’t wait to try each and every one of her new dishes.  

Calle del Dr Ignacio Hernandez Macias #97
Sunday 3PM - 11 PM
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 1 PM - 11 PM
Closed Tuesday
Chef: Greta Ortega Casanas
Sous Chef: Cecy Alverez

Sauerkraut and Bacon Sandwich
Eggs Benedict with Hoja Santa
We’re sold when it comes to this Querencia sandwich, smothered in bacon with a topping of homemade sauerkraut, then covered with cheese and baked to perfection; a sentimental flavor combination from our childhood. The Eggs Benedict is another amazing dish served on the sourdough she makes by hand and sells out of every day. You’ll love the addition of the toasted Hoja Santa leaf.

Julian Carrillo 4B
Hours: 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM Monday – Friday
Chef: Esmeralda Brinn Bolanos

Fried Shrimp Ciabatta

Only a Peruvian restaurant in the middle of Mexico could pull off these flavors in a sandwich piled high with lightly breaded shrimp, lettuce, pickled onions, tomatoes, avocado and a tartar sauce. Chef Alexandra Gutt and her husband Juan just opened a new Mezcal bar, San Mezcal, three doors down from La Parada. Try their bar menu for some elevating, new Peruvian flavors.

La Parada
Recreo 94
Wed - Saturday 12:00 Noon - 10:00 PM
Sunday - Monday 12:00 Noon - 9:00 PM
Tuesday – Closed

Chef: Alexandra Gutt

San Mezcal
Recreo 88
Opens: 5:00 PM

Chef: Alexandra Gutt

Cochinita Pibil Ahogada Sandwich

A Guadalajara sandwich created by a Oaxaca born chef? The best of all combinations! We love Chef Israel Loyola Espinosa’s dish because he uses some of our favorite ingredients: pickled onion and habanero chili with avocado leaf and bean mayonnaise. The bean bolillo adds some extraordinary new flavors to the dish.

Jacinto 1930
Doce 18 at Relox 18
Sunday 12:00 noon –9:00 PM
Monday - Thursday 1:00 PM–9:00 PM

Chef: Israel Loyola Espinosa

Ramen with Beef Shank

With an oversized mound of perfectly cooked beef shank floating in the middle of the bowl, this is the best Ramen we’ve eaten in Mexico. Chef Mariana Gonzalez Gutierrez studied under Chef Matteo Salas at Aperi before she took over the kitchen at El Café de la Mancha. She loves cooking at El Café de la Mancha because of the 5:30 closing… it’s her closest chance to have a normal life; something most chefs don’t get to experience. Don’t underestimate this chef; her version of mole blew us away last year.

El Cafe de la Mancha
Recreo 21A
Monday – Saturday: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Closed Sunday
Chef: Mariana Gonzalez Gutierrez

Carnitas and Barbacoa

Some of the best Carnitas and Barbacoa are made by the Vasquez family at Mercado Rural; Via Organica’s monthly market held the first Sunday of every month. We can’t think of a better breakfast than fresh cooked Carnitas and hugs?

Vasquez Family
Mercado Rural
Margarito Ledesna #2 in front of Via Organica
Colonia Guadalupe
9 AM - 4 PM the first Sunday of every month

Burrata Salad

This salad gets our vote in the some-like-it-hot category. Chef Mariano Alvarez adds sweet grilled apple (it use to be made wth pears) to a creamy local, Burrata, along with a cross cut pile of tender Asparagus that added a pleasing crunch. Drizzle on the fruity-tart taste of a balsamic reduction and pair it with a generous pile of grilled chicken. We savored this dish down to the very last bite. On a scale of 1-10, it’s a 12.
Buenos Aires Bistro
Mesones #62
Sunday – Saturday: 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Chef: Mariano Alvarez

French Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
The bar on the Chocolate chip cookie has been raised to a new level, thanks to a new French bakery, La Casa Caramel, owned by Beaupréau, Pays De La Loire, French born baker Emmanuelle Deboise. It’s all in the butter and her pastries have plenty of it. She also does gorgeous cakes, Quiches and tarts. Besides, anything with Caramel in the name is a quick pick for us.
La Casa Caramel

Caren’s Favorite
You will not recognize this space. Closed for a month and a half, the restaurant is beautiful; triple the size with a stunning, outdoor patio and an arched, glass wall between the old and new space. What hasn't changed: great food and service, provided by mother-daughter team, Chef/Owners Elisa Cordova and Jimena Tamayo. We like a lot of their dishes on their, especially this breakfast casserole with toast, avocado, two poached eggs, sautéed tomatoes and beans. Coming to Garambullo Fonda Gourmet is always a bit like coming home. 

Garambullo Fonda Gourmet
Privada Animas #46
Daily: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM except closed on Tuesday
Duck Confit Salpicon
Soft Shell Crab Salad
Lamb Barbacoa Dumplings

Cheesecake and Baklava
Chefs Gonzalo Martinez and Erick Rojo recently spent time in some of the best kitchens in Lima. The result? Quince's best menu yet. We ate plenty of great food, including Duck Confit Salpicon: a 12 hour duck confit with a thai chilli sauce and pickled veggies; Barbacoa Dumplings filled with lamb barbacoa and poblano pepper confit with a sauce of lemon grass cream, then topped with pickled onions and a touch of habanero; and a Soft Shell Crab Salad that combined local burrata with a mesculin mix, tempura soft shell crab and a roasted tomtillo vinaigrette. Quince’s always had good desserts but with their own bakery now, the selection is much more extensive. Pastry Chef, Rodrigo Morales, is also new. His Cheesecake and Baclava was a surprising mix of interesting textures and flavors. Quince's famous corn cake is still on the dessert menu. Look for Quince’s new sushi bar that will be opening soon. 
Cuna de Allende #15
Monday – Saturday: 12:00 Noon – 2:00 AM
Sunday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 Midnight
Chefs: Gonzalo Martinez and Erick Rojo
Pastry Chef: Rodrigo Morales