Oaxaca – El Bajío in the heart of Barcelona
A portion of nachos can be found in many places in Barcelona. Nonetheless, if you are searching for the real thing, Mexican food created from the scratch, using its own garden to grow ingredients that can only be found in this colourful country divided by the Tropic of Cancer, than you have come to the right place.
The restaurant is located in front of Pla de Palau square, in the heart of El Born, a quite touristic neighbourhood nowadays. Don´t worry, though! Oaxaca is a safe territory and the Virgen de Guadalupe in their dining room is a proof of that. By the way, all their decoration is very interesting, full of references to the “Día de los Muertos”, as you can see at their mezcalería.
I have tried many dishes, but before talking about them, I wanted to point two characteristics from the restaurant that were outstanding to me. First, the presentation. Some dishes are even finished right beside your table, in front of your eyes. Second, the ingredientes. The restaurant has a Mexican garden and grows products such as poblanos, chiles de árbol, miltomate, acuyo, verdolaga and epazote, just to name a few.
Our dinner started with the famous guacamole from the house, one of the plates that are finished in front of the table with the “molcajete” (a typical mortar), served with giant chicharrones (crackling pork), made to grab your neighbours attention. It contains onions, green chile, cilantro and sea salt. For my surprise, absolutely no lemon juice included, so it doesn´t hide the real flavour from the avocado.
Aguachile with mango, fresh fish, plátano macho (banana), chamoy and habanero. This plate reminds me of a ceviche, but with more (and more powerful) sauce. It´s a perfect mix of the sweetness of the fruits, the savoury of the chamoy (a paste made from pickled fruit) and the spiciness of the home grow habaneros, one of the strongest peppers you will find.
The shrimps cooked over mezcal fire in a mexican molcajete are another proof of how powerful their presentation can be. Perfectly cooked, aromatic, incredible.
The queen of the house has to be the Iberian breed cochinita pibil with frijoles de la olla and xnipec sauce. This is one of the most emblematic dishes from the country but, if any explanation is needed, I could say that it´s their version of a pulled pork, with black beans stew and a Yucatecan version of pico de gallo. The corn tortillas are homemade and nixtamalized, meaning that they treat the corn grain in house, like Mexicans would do in ancient times, to make their tortillas.
All this knowledge is spread by Joan Bagur, a chef from Menorca that worked for a long time in the kitchen of Carmen Ramírez Degollado, la “Titita”, from El Bajío in Mexico, absorbing this millenary cuisine that has been passed down from mothers to daughters from the times of the Zapotecas.
Summing up, if you are looking for true ingredients, ancient recipes, chilis grown in a Mexican garden in Barcelona and extraordinary Instagram like presentations, go to Oaxaca. You will never look to regular nachos the same way again.