Mexican food in CT goes upscale and sophisticated

“I want to get past Tex-Mex,” said Chef Colt Taylor. His Mexican restaurant, Los Charros Cantina in Centerbrook, is taking the leap. “Mexico has diverse culinary regions, just like the United States, but all we know is the food coming from the north along the border.”

Delving deeper into Mexico’s culinary heritage, Taylor finds influences from indigenous peoples, conquistadors, and the Middle Eastern and Pacific trade, all applied to ingredients from coastal, desert, mountain, and Caribbean climates. Taylor’s food is a rich, delicious blend with a dash of the New England coast.

Los Charros has a large family-friendly space with a list of familiar favourites, but the restaurant also has a 21-plus dining room with twenty-eight intimate seating. You can order from the menu, but the showstopper is a five-course (really seven) tasting menu for just $65.00.

Taylor takes traditional ingredients and presentations and applies classic European cooking techniques to exciting results. The recently developed list has included Caviar Sope, Shrimp Ceviche, Lobster Barria, and 48-Hour Braised Wagyu Brisket. It is very sophisticated Mexican food.

In New York, Cosme, a world-renowned restaurant created by owner Chef Enrique Olvera, is creatively exploring Mexican cuisine with great results. The lavish and contemporary design of the space does not contain a single cantina reference. The ingredients and descriptions are unequivocally Mexican, but these are tostadas, tacos, and carnitas unlike any food I’ve eaten before. Tostada with Morel and Fresh Peas ($29) shared the woody mushrooms and fresh pea flavors. The juicy sliced ​​octopus ($26), seasoned with basil, was sandwiched under a straw of shaved sorrel.

Juicy sliced ​​octopus, seasoned with basil pepper, was sitting under a straw of shaved sorrel at Cosme's in New York.

Juicy sliced ​​octopus, seasoned with basil pepper, was sitting under a straw of shaved sorrel at Cosme’s in New York.


Frank Whitman/Hearst Connecticut Media Group

Corn husk meringue for dessert at Cosme.

Corn husk meringue for dessert at Cosme.


Frank Whitman/Hearst Connecticut Media Group


Some of the menu items at Cosme in New York. (Frank Whitman/For Connecticut Heart Media)

It’s the kind of food that leads to a discussion of flavours.

Picture-perfect Tataki al Pastor (Grilled Fish) ($35) was garnished with thinly sliced ​​jalapeños and pineapple along with a bit of pineapple purée that stole the show. Duck Carnitas for two ($98) is Cosme’s signature dish. Half of the boneless magic duck was deliciously cooked until tender and tender and served with mahogany skin. A blend of duck radish, watermelon and cilantro with choice of smoked mole and green pepper sauce raises the bar for carnitas.

As delicious as dinner was, it’s hard to believe the best is yet to come: Corn Husk Meringue ($20) for dessert. The meringue crust, not unlike the pavlova, had a sweet corn filling flavored with corn pudding and a soft mascarpone texture. Whipped cream is placed in waiting under the filling. The crunch of the meringue and the flavor of corn is ruled by the cream – oh my!

I can see why Cosme is ranked 22nd in the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants”.

In Fairfield County, Chef Bill Taibe serves up creative Mexican cuisine inspired by his visits to Mexico City and the very popular dining destinations of Puebla and Oaxacana at his popular Westport restaurant, Don Mimo. The restaurant operates year-round in the Old Town Hall, and has a spacious front yard for al fresco dining.

Taybeh cooking bears the authentic character of personal experience. Bold-flavored, colorful sauces and moles flavor every dish. A set of common panels make the table display colorful and alluring. Among our favorites was the Tuna Crudo tostado ($26) with habaneros and chipotles to provide a balanced heat. The Carnitas Tender ($24) with a bowl full of pickled vegetables, and Cameron ($26) in pink crema were delicious options from the Taco Placero menu. Marsha was topped with Picada ($14), a salad of evenly sliced ​​cucumbers, tomatillos, and avocados in a bright green vinaigrette.

Thanks to chefs like Taylor, Olvera, and Taipei, the trend is shifting to more sophisticated cooking from the rich and diverse culture of Mexico. Better ingredients, out-of-the-ordinary dishes, and the interest of masterful chefs expand the idea of ​​Mexican food.

Frank Whitman writes a weekly food column called Not Bread Alone. He can be reached at [email protected]


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