Skip to Content

Pujol Restaurant Review: The Best Mexican Food on the Planet

Round slices of avocado sandwich a seed-covered mole in the middle
Appetizers: Round slices of avocado sandwich a chia seed-covered mole in the middle

“It's subjective,” Chef Enrique Olvera said, shrugging off my mention of Pujol's recent ranking as the 17th best restaurant in the world.

That may be true, but after a stunning display of service and 11 delicious courses showing off Mexican cuisine, it was hard for me to imagine a more exceptional restaurant experience.

A week earlier, while still in Puerto Vallarta, I'd first learned of Pujol's reputation and made a 2 PM lunch reservation for my sole Saturday in the capital.

I spent the morning walking Mexico City's historic center and then took a $10 taxi west to the Polanco neighborhood.

The restaurant's exterior was unpretentious and unassuming. A doorman greeted me on the sidewalk.

I commented about arriving a few minutes early, but he didn't hesitate to walk me inside, where several tables were already being serviced.

Crispy beef empanada
Appetizers: Crispy beef empanada

The restaurant was small, just 13 tables, which was a number chosen for its luck.

As it happens, 13 was the lucky number associated with my college, and thus became my lucky number as well.

The intimate atmosphere is a departure from the much larger Astrid & Gaston in Lima, the only other restaurant I've been to from the list of the world's 50 best restaurants.

I sat down at a table for two, offering me a full view of the restaurant.

The wait staff worked harmoniously together throughout the two-hour lunch, and most (if not all) were bilingual.

Appetizers: This baby corn on a skewer was presented in a large gourd, which was brought to the table
Appetizers: This baby corn on a skewer was presented in a large gourd, which was brought to the table

The drink and wine menu was extensive, but I kept it simple, ordering a mojito. It was familiar, and I knew they'd make me a good one.

In retrospect, I wish I'd ordered a signature cocktail, something a little more unique to the experience.

I'd already scoped out the tasting menu online and didn't hesitate to order it at 890 pesos ($69).

The mojito arrived, followed by quelites aromatica, an aromatic tea that tasted more like soup broth.

Filled with turnip and cabbage, this bite-sized appetizer melted in my mouth
Appetizers: Filled with turnip and cabbage, this bite-sized appetizer melted in my mouth

I was also served a variety of bite-sized appetizers.

I quickly realized my attempt to document the detailed descriptions of every dish would only serve to slow everyone down.

Service was so efficient. I barely had time to type a few words into my iPhone before each new dish arrived.

At this point in my Pujol restaurant review, I'm going to let the photos do the talking.

See also: Best Restaurants in Latin America

Course #3: Roasted beef tartar with alfalfa and serrano chile, topped with a tortilla (which I broke before taking the picture)
Course #2: Roasted beef tartar with alfalfa and serrano chile oil, topped with a tortilla (which I broke before taking the picture)
Red and green salsas are brought to the table, both of which I forget to use
Red and green salsas are brought to the table, both of which I forget to use
Course #3: Fish ceviche taco with crispy fish skin and beans
Course #3: Fish ceviche taco with crispy fish skin and beans
Course #5: Purslane noodles, grilled onions, peppermint, and chile-covered balls of sheep cheese
Course #4: Purslane noodles, grilled onions, peppermint, and chile-covered balls of sheep cheese
Course #5: Organic chicken, red onion, and epazote (a Mexican herb also known as wormseed)
Course #5: Organic chicken, red onion, and epazote (a Mexican herb also known as wormseed)
Course #6: Pork confit, a rich mole, drop of sweet tamarind sauce, and white cabbage
Course #6: Pork confit, a rich mole, drop of sweet tamarind sauce, and white cabbage. This was my favorite dish of the lunch!
Course #7: Mole Madre. At first I thought it was a palm-sized circle of mole, but there's a thin taco under there, which you eat as well.
Course #7: Mole Madre. At first, I thought it was a palm-sized circle of mole, but there's a thin taco under there, which you eat as well. It had a strong, slightly spicy flavor.
Course #8: Dominican banana, macadamia zest, chamomile flower, cocoa, and sour cream
Course #8: Dominican banana, macadamia zest, chamomile flower, cocoa, and sour cream
Course #9: Guayaba sorbet, mezcal and chile salt
Course #9: Guayaba sorbet, mezcal and chile salt
Course #10: Thyme glazed biscuit, lemon gelatin, ice cream, cookie soup, and white chocolate
Course #10: Thyme glazed biscuit, lemon gelatin, ice cream, cookie soup, and white chocolate
Course 11: Chocolate mousse with mezcal and orange, served warm. It was divine!
Course #11: Chocolate mousse with mezcal and orange, served warm. It was divine!
A few of Pujol's 13 tables
A few of Pujol's 13 tables

The total bill for my lunch came to $106, including tax and tip. A real steal for a restaurant regarded as the best in Mexico, and one of the best in Latin America.

To ensure seating, book ahead by phone or through their website. The dress is casual, especially during lunch. I wore my usual jeans and a t-shirt.

Restaurante Pujol

Address: Francisco Petrarca 254, Polanco, Mexico City

Tel: +52 (55) 5545 – 4111

Hours: Monday to Saturday 2 PM – 4 PM, 6:30 PM – 11:30 PM. Closed Sundays.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking uses and recommends:

joseph

Monday 26th of August 2013

Can you point the major differences or highlights between Astrid & Gaston vs Pujol in terms of food quality and taste? Do you prefer one vs the other?

Dave

Tuesday 27th of August 2013

Hi Joseph,

Great question. The biggest difference was not in the food quality or service (both were world class), but in the size of the restaurants.

The Astrid & Gaston in Lima is their flagship location, and while unassuming from the outside, it features several large dining rooms. I imagine it can serve a few hundred diners, at least, per lunch or dinner service.

Pujol is one room with just 13 tables (a lucky number for them, as well as me). As a result, it's a much more intimate atmosphere, which I preferred.

Also, based on how I felt afterwards, I'd say the volume of food for the tasting menu at Astrid & Gaston was higher. I could barely move afterwards, and lunch lasted 3 hours.

At Pujol, the tasting menu didn't leave me feeling so heavy, and I was in and out in exactly 2 hours.

Both lunches cost $100 USD. I would go back to either, but as a solo diner I think I preferred Pujol a little more because it was smaller.

Paula C. Wilkes

Wednesday 12th of June 2013

Mexican foods are fantastic. I always love the salsa and the tacos. Looking at the photos makes me wanna visit the nearby Mexican restaurant here.

Anita Mac

Saturday 8th of June 2013

The food looks quite yum, although not at all what I expected to be reading! Can't believe you forgot to use the salsa - if it is as good and fresh as I expect it would be, it would be a wonderful addition to the flavours of your meal!

Dave

Saturday 8th of June 2013

I'll admit, I didn't know which dishes to use it with, and the flavors of everything were fine on their own. I'll have to go back and try again :)

Thomas Dembie

Saturday 8th of June 2013

The food looks delicious. $106 sounds very reasonable for such a meal. Did they have any type of alcohol pairing option to go along with it? That would be interesting. Mexican restaurants seem to be the craze around where I live now, but none show anywhere close to the level of sophistication of this place. Hopefully I'll get to try it one day!

Sam

Friday 7th of June 2013

That looks amazing! Was the bill $106 US dollars or $106 Mexican pesos? It can't have been in Mexican pesos, right...?

Dave

Friday 7th of June 2013

It was $106 US Dollars, which is is still about half what you'd expect to pay for a similar meal in a major American city.

Comments are closed.