Pujol Mexico City Review: 7 Things to Know Before You Go
It is amazing that Pujol consistently ranks in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List (currently #13) even after 23 years! As first-timers to Mexico City, we knew we had to include a visit to Chef Enrique Olvera’s legendary restaurant in our itinerary. He is credited with placing Mexican cuisine prominently on the culinary map with his use of modern and ancient Mexican cooking techniques. With the recent news that the Michelin Guide will feature some of the best Mexico City restaurants in 2024, I wouldn’t be surprised if it receives some of those coveted stars in the very near future.
We had many questions before our big dining event. Which tasting menu to pick? What to wear? Should we do the beverage pairing?
Hopefully sharing our firsthand encounter and 7 tips will help you plan your foodie experience. At the end, I’ll answer the all-important question was it worth it?
My answer may surprise you.
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01- Omakase Taco Bar vs. Traditional Tasting
Omakase Taco Bar Experience Menu
There are two tasting menu experiences: Omakase Taco Bar and Traditional.
Both experiences have four seating times to choose from, which are slightly staggered. Two in the afternoon and two in the evening.
We chose the 1:30 pm Omakase Taco Bar Experience for the following 4 reasons:
→ 01- We love the more intimate casual dining experience sitting at the bar conversing with the staff during the meal. Our waiter, Alex, truly made our meal enjoyable.
Don’t worry. You are not sitting on bar stools for the 3+ hour experience. The countertop is low, and you are seated in comfy chairs.
→ 02- The Bar Menu includes Chef Olvera’s famous Mole Madre (more on that later!)
→ 03- The humble Taco is center stage.
→ 04- The restaurant is simply stunning. Very mid-century modern, which we love. Large windows allow the space to be drenched in natural light. Beautifully landscaped. The central focus of the restaurant is a tree emerging from the floor.
Why do I share this? Because we chose the lunch hour to appreciate all this amazing ambiance in the daytime.
02- All Wine vs. Mixed vs. Nonalcoholic Pairing
Past reviews stated drink pairings were included in the Omakase Taco Bar Experience. Maybe they were at one time but not anymore.
The Mixed Pairing was $2895 (~ $166 USD).
My husband did the quick math and didn’t see the value in the quite steeply-priced beverage pairing. The 7 drink pairing (where two of the drinks are beer and sake) comes out to roughly $23 USD/drink. Hard to justify especially when I share what was served.
I, on the other hand, got caught up in the moment and affirmatively stated I wanted to do the Mixed Pairing.
Upon reflection, my mistake. The value was just not there, but that’s on me for ordering wrong.
Our Mixed Pairing included the following drinks:
Quinta da Lapa Alvarinho (Portugal)
Nami Tokubetsu Junmai Mexican Craft Sake
Maceración Macabeo Ecológico (Spain)
Monopolio Lager Clara
Gran Centenario Cristalino Tequila
#1- HOUSE MARGARITA (not pictured): Refreshing but after having the perfectly executed house margarita at Contramar it did not quite hit the mark.
#2- NAMI TOKUBETSU JUNMAI MEXICAN CRAFT SAKE: We were first introduced to sake at Sake Bar Yoramu in Kyoto many years ago, and we love it! It was very fun to try the first Mexican sake, whose production was guided by Japanese consultant, Mr. Munetaka Nakashima from Nakashima Sake Brewery.
#3- QUINTA DA LAPA ALVARINHO FROM PORTUGAL: Dry, bright, citrusy, pleasant. Love a good Alvarinho, and we really do enjoy Portuguese wine after doing a few Portuguese wine tours. Retail cost: 7 €/bottle.
#4- MACERACION MACABEO ECOLOGICO (ORANGE WINE FROM SPAIN): Fresh, dry, orange citrus. We first tried orange wine in Slovenia. It’s fun to try wines that you would not normally pick.
#5- MONOPOLIO LAGER CLARA: Took some sips, but I’m just not a beer person.
#6- GRAN CENTENARIO CRISTALINO TEQUILA: Ultra smooth, well-crafted tequila. This goes down way too easily.
#7- SWEET DESSERT WINE (not pictured): I missed taking a photo of the last wine while we were served outdoors on the terrace. I’m assuming it was a late-harvest sweet wine?
The drink combinations were intriguing and fun to try, but the value for what you received didn’t align with the high cost.
We are not wine experts (but rather wine travelers) and love visiting wine regions. This was our first trip to Mexico City, and we really enjoyed some of the Mexican wines we tried at Wine Bar by CMB especially the ones originating from Valle de Guadalupe.
It would have been nice to see some Mexican wine showcased in the pairings.
03- Actual Pujol Price Tag
Taco Bar Experience: $3995 (16% tax included)
Mixed Drink Pairing: $2895
Total: $6890 (~$400 USD/person) * does not include tip
Worth it? I’ll let you know later in my Final Thoughts section.
04- Pujol Dress Code
Standing in front of the beautifully designed Pujol restaurant (see the tree in the middle of the restaurant I was referring to earlier?)
What to wear to a fine dining experience in Mexico City?
It’s more casual than you think.
My husband was surprised I wore dark jeans, but I felt like I fit right in, especially during the lunch hour. Some ladies wore dresses but certainly not cocktail attire. My husband wore a collared shirt and pants.
I appreciated the more casual vibe. Maybe it’s more formal during the dinner hour.
05- Pujol Reservations
No Resy. No Open Table. No Tock. Book directly through their official website.
Yes, you are going to need to book in advance. We booked just shy of 3 months before our trip!
When we booked, there were only a handful of open slots left. For these kinds of experiences, we book the restaurant first then our airline tickets.
Sometimes a last-minute reservation will pop up the day of if there’s a cancellation, so you could get lucky.
The restaurant will call you a few days before your reservation to reconfirm. Make sure you take this call! On their website, it states “If it is not reconfirmed 24 hours before, the restaurant reserves the right to cancel your reservation. It is important to have your answer when we call, text or email you.”
06- Prepare for a 3+ Hour Experience
Our reservation was at 1:30 pm.
We were moved to the beautiful outdoor terrace to enjoy dessert and an after-dinner drink around 3:30 pm.
We happened to be seated with a lovely group of fellow travelers, so we didn’t actually leave the restaurant until 5 pm.
We were served the following for our Omakase Taco Bar Experience:
COURSE 1: Rice chicharron, quelites, tepiche oil, trout roe
DRINKG PAIRING: House Margarita
COURSE 1: Margarita scallop, citrus juice
DRINK PAIRING: House Margarita
COURSE 2: Cured tuna taco, salsa campechana
DRINK PAIRING: Nami Tokubetsu Junmai Mexican Craft Sake
COURSE 3: Lobster tostado, macadamia, pico de gallo, capers (my favorite dish!)
DRINK PAIRING: Quinta da Lapa Alvarinho (Portugal)
COURSE 4: Sope, oyster emulsion, caviar, fish chips, coriander
DRINK PAIRING: Maceracion Macabeo Ecologico (orange wine from Spain)
COURSE 5: Giga oyster, fermented tomato, celery, and chives
DRINK PAIRING: Maceracion Macabeo Ecologico
* It was supposed to be one drink per course. Not sure if they forgot one, or if the same orange wine was supposed to be paired with the oyster too.
COURSE 6: Octopus gordita
DRINK PAIRING: Monopolio Lager Clara
COURSE 7: Mole Madre 3264 days, mole nuevo * This is Chef Olvera’s famous dish, which combines a new mole and an aged mole (now 3,264 days old) that imparts a deep, rich flavor.
DRINK PAIRING: Gran Centenario Cristalino Tequila
COURSE 8: Fresas con cream, sake sorbet
DRINK PAIRING: Sweet dessert wine (didn’t catch the name)
Upon the conclusion of our dining experience, we were told to take our dinner napkins (which are made from agave fiber) as parting gifts.
One thing to note is the Omakase Taco Bar Experience did NOT include one of Chef Olvera’s quintessential dishes: Baby corn with chili mayonnaise and Chicatana ants. If you watch Chef’s Table, you’ll see which dish I am referring to.
If this matters, I believe the Traditional Tasting Menu includes that iconic dish. Also, no crispy warm churros, which made me a little sad.
I understand the Pujol kitchen has a comal for tortillas and a brick oven pit for making barbacoa (wish there had been a barbacoa taco on the menu like in years past). I would have loved to have seen the kitchen like we experienced at Hisa Franko. It’s fun to see where all the culinary creations take place.
07- Where to Stay
If you are reading this article, you are clearly into foodie experiences.
You could stay in Polanco, where Pujol is located, which is upscale and swanky and right next to the beautiful sprawling Chapultepec Park.
However, if you want to base yourself in a neighborhood with loads of charm and character and offers INSIDER ACCESS to another incredible foodie experience, stay at Casa Izeba.
Final Thoughts on Pujol
Being first-time visitors to Mexico City, not dining at Pujol would have left us with regrets. It’s almost like embarking on a foodie pilgrimage.
It was fun to try the famous Mole Madre, which was 3264 days in the making when we went. There were a few other interesting dishes, but I’m not sure I would call this a very memorable dining experience.
Maybe I’m jaded because we are not new to the fine dining scene. When I start to compare other foodie experiences we’ve had that command that same price tag like Sawada in Japan, Hisa Franko in Slovenia, or Maido in Peru, it falls short.
GREAT to do once but not a repeater.
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Questions about our Pujol dining experience?
Let me know in the comments below!