Thursday, June 13, 2024

Mexico City restaurant Pujol named No. 5 in the world

“Been to any good restaurants lately?” is a familiar refrain among expats in Mexico. If the answer you get is “Pujol in Mexico City,” then your friend has been to a really, really good one — the fifth-best restaurant in the world according to a recently released list.

Pujol ranked No. 5 and another Mexico City eatery, Quintonil, came in at No. 9 among “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” an annual list compiled by U.K.-based William Reed Business Media. Revealed on Monday at a ceremony in London, the list got its start 20 years ago in Restaurant magazine.

Pujol, by chef Enrique Olvera, improved four places from its spot on the 2021 list, and can also lay claim to being the best restaurant in North America, as the top four spots are claimed by restaurants in Denmark, Peru and two in Spain.

Pujol is located in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City, and it rates a 4.5 on Google based on 4,291 reviews (with a price rating of $$$$, indicating the most expensive level). It has a sleek interior and a partially covered, terrazzo-floor patio.

Opened by Olvera in 2000 and relocated to Polanco in 2017, the restaurant aims to showcase “everything about Mexican gastronomy, from its unique techniques and inimitable spices to the country’s rich history,” according to a writeup released with the list. Jesús Durón is now Pujol’s chef de cuisine.

Among the restaurant’s signature dishes are “Mole Madre and Mole Nuevo,” both featured on a seven-course tasting menu that changes with the seasons and “packs an incredible punch.” One of the moles is aged for up to 2,500 days, according to the writeup, and is served “alongside a steamy dish of baby corn with chicatanas and mayonnaise.” Chicatanas, a Mexican delicacy, are flying ants collected only once a year in the first few hours after the first big rain of the season.

The restaurant also serves an array of gourmet tacos, such as scallop tacos with avocado, ginger and shiso, and flor de calabaza (squash blossom) tacos with koshihikari rice and amberjack (a fish).

Quintonil, which jumped from 27th on the 2021 list to No. 9 this year, is led by chef Jorge Vallejo, who received an individual honor as well. He was given the “Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award” for 2022 at the ceremony for “defining the soul of a nation in its kitchen.” The restaurant features “boundary-pushing Mexican cuisine” and is named after a green herb that shows up in both food and beverages at the restaurant.

Barbecued potatoes in a grasshopper adobo sauce
Barbecued potatoes in a grasshopper adobo sauce with nixtamalized ayocote and vaquita beans at Quintonil in Mexico City.

Just like Pujol, Quintonil is located in Polanco and scores a 4.5 on Google (based on 1,796 reviews) with a price rating of four dollar signs.

Although the list is presented as a top 50, it also comes with rankings for 51 through 100. That addendum includes No. 51 Mayor in Guadalajara, No. 52 Sud 777 in Mexico City, No. 60 Rosetta in Mexico City and No. 89 Máximo Bistrot, also in Mexico City. The first two had appeared on the list before, while Rosetta and Máximo made their debuts.

The top spot went to Geranium, which serves seasonal Scandinavian food at its restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark. Its dining room is on the eighth floor of a football stadium. Last year, another Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, was No. 1 for a fifth time, and Geranium was runner-up; organizers this year decided to make former winners ineligible, so Noma was placed in a “Best of the Best” category.

This year’s top 5 was rounded out by Central in Lima, Peru; Disfrutar in Barcelona, Spain; Diverxo in Madrid, Spain; and Pujol.

The reveal ceremony took place in London at a repurposed fish market on the Thames River in the midst of a heat wave and was hosted by actor Stanley Tucci.

Here’s the full list of the Top 50. Numbers in brackets are last year’s rankings:

  1. Geranium, Copenhagen (2)
  2. Central, Lima (4)
  3. Disfrutar, Barcelona (5)
  4. Diverxo, Madrid (20)
  5. Pujol, Mexico City (9)
  6. Asador Etxebarri, Axpe, Spain (3)
  7. A Casa do Porco, São Paulo (17)
  8. Lido 84, Gardone Riviera, Italy (15)
  9. Quintonil, Mexico City (27)
  10. Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy (26)
  11. Maido, Lima (7)
  12. Uliassi, Senegallia, Italy (52)
  13. Steirereck, Vienna (12)
  14. Don Julio, Buenos Aires (13)
  15. Reale, Castel di Sangro, Italy (51)
  16. Elkano, Getaria, Spain (30)
  17. Nobelhart & Schmutzig, Berlin (45)
  18. Alchemist, Copenhagen (58)
  19. Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy (18)
  20. Den, Tokyo (11)
  21. Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain (14)
  22. Septime, Paris (24)
  23. The Jane, Antwerp, Belgium (66)
  24. The Chairman, Hong Kong (10)
  25. Frantzén, Stockholm (6)
  26. Restaurant Tim Raue, Berlin (31)
  27. Hof Van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium (43)
  28. Le Clarence, Paris
  29. St. Hubertus, San Cassiano, Italy (54)
  30. Florilège, Tokyo (39)
  31. Arpège, Paris (23)
  32. Atomix, New York (43)
  33. Hiša Franko, Kobarid, Slovenia (21)
  34. Clove Club, London
  35. Odette, Singapore (8)
  36. Fyn, Cape Town
  37. Jordnaer, Copenhagen
  38. Sorn, Bangkok
  39. Schloss Schauenstein, Fürstenau, Switzerland (59)
  40. La Cime, Osaka, Japan
  41. Quique Dacosta, Denia, Spain
  42. Boragó, Santiago (38)
  43. Le Bernardin, New York (44)
  44. Narisawa, Tokyo (19)
  45. Belcanto, Lisbon (42)
  46. Oteque, Oslo
  47. Leo, Bogato (46)
  48. Ikoyi, London (87)
  49. SingleThread, Healdsburg, California (37)

With reports from Vanguardia and Bloomberg

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