Criollo, a surprise in Oaxaca

The Mexican scene is at its best. The latest example: the restaurant of the sound Luis Arellano, a hymn to his land

04-07-2018

Rib-eye with insect chintexle, one of the most interesting dishes at restaurant Criollo in Oaxaca, Mexico (photos in this piece from In Sinister)

For some years now, the state of Oaxaca has become one of the world’s main culinary destination, a mandatory point of reference on the gastronomic map of Mexico. An endless source of flavours and traditions attracting food pilgrims in search of new experiences.

As part of this trend, many new restaurants have emerged, especially in the capital, Oaxaca de Juárez. Among these, are restaurants with a more sophisticated offer, reflecting and respecting the humble origins of the local cuisine. These are places where you can experience the perfect match of tradition and modernity. Restaurant Criollo is one such example.

It is the result of the ambitious project of chef Luis Arellano, supported by the famous Enrique Olvera of Pujol, his business partner, and by the beautiful design of Javier Sánchez, one of the most influent Mexican architects, who’s also part of this venture. The establishment is a tribute to the products of Oaxaca and to seasonality: this is why the menu changes daily, offering guests ingredients of the highest quality and as fresh as possible.

Chef Luis Arellano

Chef Luis Arellano

Rustic setting

Rustic setting

«We visit the local market on a daily basis, and create our menu based on what we find», says the chef. Hence the name Criollo, which means ‘Creole’, a word with different meanings, in this case used to point out the products’ features, criollo in that it refers to something that grows in a specific place: «Honestly, these are not always endemic ingredients of Oaxaca. But they’re always grown in our region, this is our rule», he points out.

After working with Olvera and Alejandro Ruiz, chef at Casa OaxacaArellano decided to take a separate road and created his own culinary style, where a simple and honest presentation allow the ingredients to shine in all their beauty. Criollo is his return home, to his origins, a present offered to his homeland, enhancing the variety and beauty of the cuisine of Oaxaca.

Criollo is located in an old colonial house. The route to the dining room leads to the heart of the restaurant, the kitchen. Guests can all see the fresh ingredients used for the menu, and then go to their respective tables, admiring the cook making traditional tortillas on a large comal (a sort of grill) made of clay at the entrance of the patio.

Chile poblano with Pipián verde with courgettes, asparagus and Istmeño cheese

Chile poblano with Pipián verde with courgettes, asparagus and Istmeño cheese

Turbot with potato confit and prickly pear sauce 

Turbot with potato confit and prickly pear sauce 

Oaxaca’s typical products inspire the dishes: Tamal filled with quesillo (a cheese originally from Oaxaca with a texture similar to mozzarella), served with mole negro from Oaxaca and chards. Pipián verdemade with chile poblano served with courgettes, asparagus and Istmeño (a white cheese similar to Italian ricotta salata). Rib-eye with insect chintexcle, a sauce made with grasshoppers, chicatana ants and gusano de maguey – the worm you usually find at the bottom of a bottle of mescal. Turbot with confit potatoes and sauce made with prickly pear leaves; interesting desserts such as corn Churros or Pumpkin flan.

Finally, the excellent selection of mescal also deserves a mention. The famous spirit is mostly produced here in the region of Oaxaca.

Corn churros 

Corn churros 

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Criollo
Calzada Madero 129
Oaxaca de Juárez
Mexico
reservaciones@criollo.mx
Tasting menu: 690 (lunchtime), 748 (dinner), 1.350 (with wines) Mexican pesos 
Closed on Monday 


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