Last February, two weeks before Laiola owner and Tacolicious co-founder Joe Hargrave set off for Mexico City with Tacolicious cohort (and 7x7 editor) Sara Deseran, Rick Bayless happened by Laiola for dinner. “Can you imagine?” Hargrave told Grub Street. “I’m in the restaurant, I’ve bought tickets for Mexico City, and guess who walks into the restaurant?” After Hargrave introduced himself and told Bayless he was going to Mexico City, the Latin superchef gave him a list of food destinations to visit. “After he wrote me the list, he sat there and talked to me with so much animation, as if I had a camera crew with me. He’s so un-celebrity. I was very taken by it,” Hargrave said. After their Bayless-guided food tour, Hargrave and Desaran now use the techniques they observed in their pop-up Laiola spin-off, Tacolicious. Hargrave shared Bayless’s list with Grub Street, as well as his impressions of each spot.
• Fonda El Refugio, Liverpool 166 Col Juariez
“You kind of sit at a counter. They have almost a hibachi, it’s a tiny little griddle. It’s like short-order cooking. Really simple. For their El Pastor, they have the grilled pineapple, which is such a cool addition to tacos.”
• Pujol, Petrarca 254
“We didn’t go in. It was a little too fancy for what we were looking for. It was definitely something like a first-world expensive restaurant. It looked beautiful, but we were getting away from that.”
• Contramar, Durango 200, Col. Roma Norte
“That restaurant might have changed my life, it’s so great. We went twice. It was unbelievable. In all of Mexico City, we went back. He even wrote it in his notes, ‘best seafood restaurant in Mexico City.’ And it was. It was so, so good.”
• Mercado Medellin, Coahuila, Colonia Roma
“That was what he sent us to as a must, but the bigger one we spent more time in was the [Mercado] Merced. That was near the Zocalo. It’s so crazy enormous. It goes on and on and on. Just a ton of stuff, food, music blaring. We were literally the only white people in there. It was so dense.”
• El Moro, Eje Central Lázaro Cardenas 42, Barrio Chino
“It’s a churroria, a little churro spot near the Zocalo. They serve them with different hot chocolates.”
• Taqueria El Farolito, Tacámbaro 4, at the corner of Alfonso Reyes
“It’s a small chain. The one he sent us to was the original, and that was in Condesa.”
• El Califa, 22 Calle Altata
“Even being from California and having spent time in Mexico as a kid, I’d never experienced anything like Califa before. A sit-down restaurant where they bring out the menu and there’s many different kinds of tacos, and salsas, and grades of meat. That’s kind of what I’m trying to do with Tacolicious right now.”
Stop by Laiola tomorrow night for T-Lish Tuesdays, when you can get a Tacolicious taco, a shot of Don Julio Reposado, and a can of Tecate for $10.