A RECENT VISIT TO TULUM, MEXICO uncovered the Mexican restaurant of our dreams. So discretely tucked away off the main road that even a local taxi driver had difficulty finding it, the beautifully-designed open air Restaurare felt like an oasis of creative vegan Mexican food. It’s no wonder that the restaurant’s name is inspired by the philosophy of restoring the spirit. Chef Karla Madrazo’s and her partner Roberto Mattocks’s vision for a restaurant was one with as little environmental impact as possible, and one that respected animals and humans. “The goal is to give vegetarians, vegan or anybody, the chance to know and taste delicious Mexican food, but consciously and happily,” explains Karla. The Chef’s talents are evidenced in thoughtful dishes that combine tradition and innovation—a result of inheriting her mother’s cooking secrets and a modern education at culinary school. “I grew up with a mother so good at cooking Mexican food that I just have it in my cells,” Karla tells us.
And here is where she shares a little history lesson… Prior to the 18th century, restaurants didn’t exist— only taverns where travelers could get soup, a drink, and sometimes a place to stay for the night. In 1765, a man named Dossier Boulanger hung a sign outside of his Paris tavern that read in Latin: “Come to me, men of tired stomachs, I will restore you.” At Restaurare, this sentiment is executed to perfection. We left our dinner full, energized and warmed by Karla’s and Roberto’s genuine affability. As we fantasize about them opening up a second location in New York City, please enjoy these recipes directly from the Chef:
Pibil soy ‘meat’
1 piece bitter orange
½ cup water
1 tbsp recado rojo
1 tbsp vegetable seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 cup texturized soy
Mix everything together in a pot and put on high heat. When it is boiling add the texturized soy, integrate really well with a spoon and turn off the heat.
Tip: If you can’t find ‘recado rojo,’ try finding achiote— a red paste that mayans used to put on their faces during rituals. You can mix it with dry oregano, onion, garlic, black pepper and salt and make your own recado rojo!
1 piece red onion
2 pieces lime
1 piece habanero chili
1 tsp salt
1 pinch black pepper
Cut the red onion into small cubes or ‘brunoise’, add the juice from limes salt and pepper. Cut the habanero chili really small and put it in. At the beginning it will be spicy but with time you’ll start to feel it is less spicy. Correct seasoning if needed.
Black bean spread
1 pound black beans
¼ piece white onion
1-2 cloves garlic
salt to taste
Put everything in a pressure pot and cook as you usually do. I like to leave the water for beans a little bit salty so when cooked it’s flavorful (the water has to taste with a hint of saltiness). When they’re cooked, process the beans with some of the cooking liquid and the spread is ready!
Tip: if you want the spread even more flavorful try sautéing white onion and garlic (chopped), add the processed beans and correct seasoning.
3 pieces handmade tortillas
3 tbsp black beans spread
6 tbsp pibil soy ‘meat’
¼ piece iceberg lettuce or any local (finely sliced)
3 tbsp alfalfa sprouts
3 tsp xnipek
Plate the tacos as you prefer, or you can follow Restaurare’s presentation:
To start, spread a tablespoon of the black beans on the tortilla, then 2 tablespoons of the pibil soy. Top it with lettuce, alfalfa sprouts and xnipek on top. Try keeping everything in the middle so as you’re plating it looks neater, and serve.
COCONUT CHIA SALAD
2 pieces lime
1 tsp dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
5 tbsp organic coconut oil
1 tsp chia seeds
1/3 piece romaine lettuce (or the local one you prefer the most!)
¼ piece cucumber
1 piece tomato (wedges)
½ piece carrot (sliced)
1/8 piece red onion (sliced)
Sunflower or pea sprouts, preferred amount (or any available sprout)
How to get there:
The vinaigrette is really easy: we’re making an emulsion from the acidity of the lime and the oil from coconut. Mix the lime juice with the Dijon mustard, chia seeds, salt and pepper (still you will have to correct seasoning at the end, depending on the ingredients). Whisk really well before adding the oil until you see it starts to make a few bubbles. Then, start adding the coconut oil slowly so it can integrate while you keep whisking. Ingredients change from one place to another so maybe you’ll need more lime or more coconut oil but the taste has to be a little bit salty so when mixed with the salad it is still flavorful.
Try to get a crispy cucumber, a sweet tomato, a powerful red onion and limes with a lot of juice.
Choose the ingredients you like the most for the salad, we chose these because they’re local, fresh and tasty, toss them with your homemade vinaigrette and enjoy!
Tip: you can try other vinaigrettes with the same principle of getting and acidic ingredient and any type of oil.
Learn more about the restaurant at:
Photographs courtesy of Restaurare