Rick asked. His fans answered.
For the twelfth season of Mexico: One Plate at a Time – Bayless’ Best Ever, Rick Bayless returns to bustling Mexico City for an exploration of the country’s most vibrant classics. These are the dishes Rick’s social media followers asked to know.
Always the teacher, Rick takes us into the market stalls, street vendors and restaurants — both rustic and refined — for lessons in the essential ingredients before returning to his Mexico City apartment to prepare his “best-ever” versions.
Back home in Chicago, Rick puts a contemporary, and sometimes unexpected, spin on the Mexican favorites.
Tacos al Pastor are Mexico City’s most iconic taco, all red chile-marinated pork roasting slowly on a vertical spit and sliced with glistening pineapple into a warm corn tortilla. Rick offers a glimpse of the bustling city’s taco culture, from busy daytime eateries to late-night vendors. No trompo? No problem. Rick makes a version on his grill that will please al pastor purists, then it’s back to Chicago for grill-roasted black cod al pastor.
El Tizoncito | (multiple Mexico City locations; see website)
Cintli Tortilleria | Manzanillo 33 Colonia Roma, Mexico City, Mexico 06760
El Vilsito | Peten 248 esq. A. Universidad, Mexico City, Mexico 03023
Mercado Azcapotzalco | Av Azcapotzalco, Centro de Azcapotzalco, 02000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Chilaquiles are not just for hangovers, you know. Served everywhere from the regal downtown restaurant El Cardenal to the hipster haven Chilakillers, chilaquiles are a mainstay of Mexico City menus. But they’re also easy to achieve at home. Rick’s version, redolent with tangy tomatillo sauce, will be your next favorite “anytime” recipe. In Chicago, the traditional chilaquiles get an elegant touch with fried butternut strips and an earthy, complex pasilla chile sauce.
Restaurante El Cardenal | Palma #23, Centro Histórico, Entre 5 de Mayo y Francisco I. Madero
Chilakillers | (multiple Mexico City locations; see website)
Cafebreria el Pendulo | (multiple Mexico City locations; see website)
La Esquina de Chilaquil | Alfonso Reyes 139, Mexico City, Mexico 06100
Mercado Medellín | Campeche 101, Roma Sur, 06760 Cuauhtémoc, CDMX, Mexico
In Mexico, golden crispy churros are served with a cup of nourishing, frothy hot chocolate, and there’s perhaps no better snack in the whole republic. In this episode, Rick visits El Moro, a Mexico City institution, and then orders fistful of churros rellenos – that’s right, stuffed churros — in picturesque Coyocan. Back in Chicago, Rick’s recipe begins with classic Mexican hot chocolate and ends with churro nibbles showered atop Mexican hot chocolate ice cream.
Churrería El Moro | multiple locations; see website
Churros Jordan | Cuauhtémoc 152, Colonia del Carmen Coyoacan, Mexico City, Mexico 04100
Azul Histórico | Calle Isabel la Catolica 30, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Wherever you are in the world, a bowl of chicken soup is the cure for what ails you. In Mexico, that means a brothy bowl of shredded chicken with fried tortillas, earthy red chile, luscious cream, and fresh cheese. Rick shows you this big bowl of comfort at the countertop of La Corte, a workingperson’s downtown diner, and at the historically luxe San Angel Inn. At his Chicago home kitchen, Rick uses his kitchen’s pressure cooker to make two nurturing soups, a tried-and-true sopa de tortilla and a meal-in-a-bowl shortib-pasilla version.
La Corte | Republica de Uriguay #115, Colonia Centro, Cuauhtémoc 06060
San Angel Inn | Diego Rivera 50, San Ángel Inn, 01060 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
A giant pot of pork and hominy stew simmering over a wood fire (or in our modern kitchens, the stovetop) is a clarion call to a homespun fiesta. But pozole can be found in the abundant pozolerias around Mexico. Rick takes you inside two – Casa Churra in the bustling downtown and El Pozole de Moctezuma, famous for its Guerrero-style pozole and off-the-beaten-path location – before making a traditional pozole in his own kitchen. In Chicago, he steps through a showcase seafood pozole verde, rich and lush with velvety broth.
How do you improve on ceviche? You don’t. You simply start with the freshest fish possible. Rick shows viewers how three eateries, including a decades-old street stall and upstart vendor making waves in San Juan Market, translate super-fresh fish into beautifully balanced ceviches. In his Mexico City kitchen, Rick makes the case for unfussy classic ceviche. Then he dials it up a notch with recipes for ceviches with coconut and a little booze.
There are seemingly as many styles of tamales as there are regions in Mexico, each steaming heap of fresh masa flavored in myriad ways. We’ll see the iconic corn-husked versions at the casual Tamales Teresita, as well as the denser, banana-leaf-wrapped Chiapanecos style, sold by a family outside the historic San Juan Bautisa church. Then Rick steps through the classic Central-style tamales, and at home prepares a surprising sweet corn tamal.
At the serene kitchen at Roldán 37, Chef Romulo Mendoza prepares a perfect chile relleno, the classic battered and fried poblano chile stuffed with pork picadillo. Then it’s off to Pasilla de Humo for Oaxacan-style dried, stuffed pasilla chiles and El Pescadito, a taqueria famous for its deep fried stuffed jalapeño tacos. To ensure at-home success, Rick goes step-by-step through the tricky business of battering and frying chiles for classic chiles rellenos, then takes it to the grill for a lighter, vegetable-filled version in his Chicago backyard.
When you say the word “enchiladas,” chances are you’re thinking about the saucy, cheesy affairs we’ve all come to know and love. But in Mexico City, you’ll find a vast variety of enchiladas, both in the simplest of markets and nicest of restaurants. At the stately Mexico City restaurants El Cardenal and Roldan 37, Rick explores an interesting array of flavors, then makes show-stopping dishes of classic green chile enchiladas and red chile shrimp enchiladas.
In the canon of Mexican tacos, the carnitas tacos claims its rightful, indulgent place at the top. Those golden, crispy pieces of pork nestled in a warm corn tortilla — coupled with a bracing squeeze of lime and spoonful of creamy guacamole — are pure perfection. Rick takes us to Los Panchos, a Mexico City institution famous for carnitas, and to the vibrant Medellin Market to watch a popular carnitas vendor in action. In Chicago, Rick makes three versions – two achievable takes on the classic, plus a duck carnitas to dazzle your next dinner party.
Whether in high-end restaurants or humble homesteads, the corn tortilla is the canvas on which Mexico creates some of its most classic cuisine. Rick shows us three styles in Mexico City — mouthwatering steak tacos al carbon, colorfully garnished bistec tacos a la plancha and stewed tacos de guisado — before stepping through lessons in the perfect at-home masterpieces.
Did you know the humble little meatball has a starring role in the Mexican kitchen? In this episode, Rick sees traditional versions of albondingas in the old-school Bar Mancera and modern versions in hipster haven Cicatriz. There’s even a meatball torta thrown in for good measure. And because sometimes a “best-ever” recipe needs to be something that gets to the table quickly, Rick makes crowd-pleasing versions suitable for weeknight cooking.
San Pedro Atocpan is a small town that produces some 60 percent of the mole eaten in all of Mexico, and Rick is pretty much the perfect tour guide to show us around. We’ll see mole in its many mouthwatering forms, including the elegant mole madre at Enrique Olvera’s Pujol. In his Mexico City kitchen, Rick leads a lesson in red mole making. In Chicago, he makes a herbacious mole verde with fish that will make you the hero of the kitchen.