Monterrey, Mexico: 8 Great Restaurants by Chef Beristáin
Mexico is a country that continues to attract the attention of the food world: its rich ingredients, coupled with traditional recipes, have made it one of the best destinations on the planet for those who love eating.
And it's not just its capital, Mexico City, that boasts great food options - from south to north, the whole country reveals great gastronomic discoveries. It’s in the north region, by the way, that one of the most important cities in the country is located: Monterrey has become an industrial and technological centre in Mexico and has witnessed a growth of its gastronomic scene.
As far as restaurants are concerned, Monterrey has become one of the most representative cities in the country, attracting not only visitors but also chefs and restaurant investors from all over the world.
One of the chefs responsible for Monterrey's rise (and Mexican gastronomy throughout the world) is Guillermo González Beristáin, who 20 years ago founded Pangea, one of the most important restaurants in the country – currently in 15th position on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Uniting local ingredients and contemporary European techniques, Beristáin became an icon in Mexico and gave rise to a growing empire of restaurants throughout northeast Mexico. His group, also named Pangea, has eight restaurants, a winery, catering service, and craft brewery. In the little free time he has, the chef likes to explore the city he calls home. Here, he shares some of his favourite spots in town.
So, where to eat in Monterrey? Let's discover Beristáin's choices, from the best fine-dining venues to some typical Mexican tacos.
“I love Koli, and how the work of the Rivera-Rio brothers praises the North kitchen”, says Beristáin. The restaurant, run by the three brothers, focuses on a cuisine of origin: Rodrigo, the chef, Patrício, the maître D, and Daniel, the pastry chef, are all dedicated to making contemporary food with an eye on tradition. The name Koli comes from Nahuatl and means 'grandfather', which demonstrates their respect for the local food traditions they inherited and want to keep.
Another favorite of the chef is Grand Cru, one of the first restaurants in Mexico to focus on wine and pairing. "Gran Cru has a great wine program, like no other in Mexico," Beristáin adds.
“Another restaurant that was fundamental to the Monterrey scene was Señor Tanaka, the first one to make an effort to serve good quality Asian food before the boom that took over the city,” Beristáin adds. Today there are hundreds of immigrants from Asia living in the city, mainly Koreans, which explains the large offering of Korean restaurants.
Milk + Orson + Pan Benell
“There are great new proposals of young chefs running carefree concepts with great food today in Monterrey,” Beristáin states. Amongst them, he points out Milk, a pizza bar focused on Neapolitan pizza, and Orson, a modern burger joint, and Pan Benell, a brunch and breakfast place.
“Among the restaurants that helped to define the gastronomy scene in Monterrey, I have to mention the incredible work that El Gaucho has done, mantaining its great quality and service".
"The second restaurant that is framing the gastronomy in town is La Nacional: it continues to define the comida regia (regional cuisine) in the 21st century, with dishes that became local icons (such as the rib-eye chicharron and meat aguachiles)”, he says.
“For me, without any doubt, Alberto Senties is one of the best chefs in town. Although he is dedicating himself to catering and does not have his own restaurant, he is a great chef who has been able to reinterpret many of the classics of the local cuisine. But I also need to highlight the work of Eduardo Morali, my right arm in Pangea. Eduardo is, in my opinion, one of the best chefs in Mexico with a precise, creative technique and an admirable discipline.”
“Breakfast is an institution in Mexico, Mexicans love breakfast. Among my favorites in the city is Señor Latino, a very traditional place with traditional food like huevos estrelados (fried eggs), chilaquiles and other classics."
BreAd Panaderos Artesanales
"I also like BreAd Panaderos, which has brought the concept of slow fermentation bread made with 'levain' to the city,” Beristáin adds.
“For tacos, Taquería Orinoco is a must-visit place in Monterrey [they have a branch in Mexico City]. Their specialties are the Northern-style tacos with your choice of al pastor, bistec, or chicharron in a cool, modern atmosphere. One can’t miss it,” says Beristáin.