Gourmet Mexican cuisine & mezcalería
OAXACA is the latest restaurant to open in Barcelona inspired by the rich traditions of Mexico which is rapidly acquiring a following here based on a greater understanding and curiosity about Latin American gastronomy in general. Mexican cuisine was added by UNESCO to its list of world’s intangible cultural heritage back in 2010. OAXACA is a restaurant and 'mezcalería' (stocking more than 200 varieties of mescal), crossing its threshold is like stepping into an exotic gastronomic world ripe for exploring with unusual sounding ingredients, condiments, dishes and drinks. An excellent introduction for both the uninitiated and established fans of Mexican food.
Oaxaca is a southern region of Mexico located on the Pacific coast line, OAXACA the restaurant represents the realisation of Spanish chef Joan Bagur’s ambition to bring the foods, dishes and cooking techniques which he has spent the last 10 years of his life exploring while residing in different parts of Mexico and now bringing them back to Barcelona. Having worked at the renowned Drolma (Hotel Majestic) for several years Bagur first learned about Mexican cuisine under the tutorial of Carmen Ramírez Degollado or ‘Titita’, grand dame of Mexican food at her restaurant El Bajío en Cuitláhuac – Degollado is in fact the godmother of this restaurant having inspired and acted as consultant for its gastronomic offering which is firmly based on traditional cuisine which ‘Titita’ has worked her entire career to both prepare and archive. She has published several cook books and is now an international ambassador for Mexican cuisine around the world.
The decor of OAXACA's dining area reflects authentic Mexican cuisine and culture
Although the influence of the Spanish Conquistadors is undoubtedly an essential element of the evolution of what we understand today as Mexican cuisine its foundations lie in the Mesoamerican indigenous cultures of the pre-Columbian era. Based on native ingredients corn, beans and chilli peppers its dishes are often associated with symbolism and local festivals. OAXACA is as far removed as it’s possible to get from the Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex versions of Mexican cuisine that first became popular in the USA and have been exported around the world over recent decades and which have undoubtedly damaged our perceptions of Mexican cooking. A cuisine that is in reality based on the principles of home cooking and the idea of sharing food with family and guests that is reflected here by the informal custom of eating many of the dishes with ones’ hands and the shared nature of dips and sauces that are a defining aspect of Mexican gastronomy.
The bar counter of the mezcalería, Barcelona's only mescal bar
In its search for purist authenticity every two weeks raw OAXACA imports ingredients and condiments directly from Mexico by air to recreate the recipes which Bagur has become passionate about. Fresh Mexican variety avocados, pasote (type of fungus), mole, tortillas, jalapeños, chapulines (dried insects), etc everything here is authentic contributing to the unmistakable flavours taste. OAXACA is also intended as a place for sharing the rich culture and tradition of Mexico through its cuisine, but also offering a gastronomic experience with first rate food and condiments, where diners can find out about the culinary traditions of Mexico.
Quality materials and furniture as well as innovative lighting installations define the interior design
Joan Bagur brings together an ambitious variety of recipes and culinary traditions at OAXACA. Some of the recipes to have inspired Bagur are regional dishes which have won widespread recognition and become emblematic of Mexican cuisine in general. This is the case of dishes like Cochinita pibil (slow roasted pork dish), the ‘Oaxaqueño’ Mole, the Poblano Mole, Pozole (kind of stew), kid goat, el pan de cazón campechano (alternate layers of tortillas and beans), Churipu and orundas purépechas (corn base dish), the Sinaloa, Sonora and Chihuahua variations on Menudo (traditional Mexican soup made with beef tripe) and many other foods recreating the classic dishes of Mexican cuisine. All of the various regional cuisines are characterized by a basic indigenous component in their ingredients and ways of preparing foods which will be scrupulously respected by Bagur.
Condiments, sauces and aromatic flavours are the backbone of Mexican cuisine
The restaurant and mezcalería (mescal bar) is accommodated in a spectacular location within a building dating from the early 1800s on the Plaza Palau (adjacent to Restaurante 7 Portes one of Barcelona’s classic restaurants) set back from the street behind the stone colonnade within the neighbourhood traditionally associated with electronic goods retailers. Spread out over 400 sq.m. the décor is an essential element of the experience, the art works including traditional masks and contemporary paintings (original art work from renowned Mexican modern painter Guillermo Olguín) as well as lighting installations perfectly reflect the ‘otherness’ of this gastronomic offering. Particularly noteworthy are the tables which are formed by thick wedges of native hardwood species, solid, organic, unexpected and compelling. There is an element of rawness expressed throughout whether it be the stone flag flooring, leather upholstered seating or untreated walls with peeling plaster revealing layers of history.
View of the terrace located on the collonade surrounding Pla Palau
OAXACA is also a cocktail bar with more than 200 brands of mescal
Carmen Ramírez Degollado 'Titita' with Joan Bagur
- Pla de Palau, 19
- Telf. 34 93 319 00 64