The jewel piercing the otherwise linty outie bellybutton of Mayor Enrique Alfaro’s recently-christened “gastronomic corridor” (a collection of restaurants dotting Avenida Mexico between the perpetually congested Lopez Mateo and Golfo de Cortes glorietas) is Restaurante Alcalde, if its placement at number 36 on San Pellegrino’s list of Latin America’s 50 best restaurants is any indication.
Alcalde opened five years ago, the brainchild of chef/owner Francisco Ruano, who prior to his current venture worked at several temples of haute cuisine, including Noma in Copenhagen, El Celler de Can Roca in Catalonian Spain, and Mugaritz in Basque Spain. Ruano, who comes complete with semi-requisite beard and tattoos, puts out a seven-course tasting menu every day of the week, lunch and dinner (except the lunch-only menu offered on Sundays).
Ruano’s bill of fare changes roughly every three months, almost de rigueur for restaurants of all levels operating in our current moment’s hyper local, season-appropriate-obsessed culinary culture. But little tweaks are made often, mandated by availability of ingredients, or a lack thereof.The advice, then, is to not expect the kitchen to follow to the letter the menu printed on the restaurant’s website.
The tasting menu is, broadly speaking, a transition from zinging acidity to luxuriant umami, from straightening to attention in delighted surprise to sinking lower in your chair heavy-lidded and blissful. There were only two moments that broke the kitchen’s spell, and they were brief and forgivable.