Although Mexico has almost 9,000 km of coastline (1,000 more than Spain), if we think about its gastronomy, guacamole, quesadillas or tacos of all kinds of meats come to mind. Its fish dishes are hardly known beyond its borders.

But, specifically, the Pacific coast has one of the most fascinating cuisines in the country. “I lived in Sinaloa a couple of years and I fell in love with that kitchen ”, explains the cook Roberto ruiz to Direct to the Palate. “And it is how it is cooking today in Mexico City, where fish and seafood restaurants ”.

Ruiz was the first Mexican to achieve a Michelin star in Europe, in your restaurant MX point, which closed the blind in the summer of 2020, for reasons not directly related to the pandemic, but to the state of the premises.

At that time everyone was waiting for the opening of a new MX Point, which would revalidate the star, but Ruiz went off on a tangent. He decided to focus on the cuisine of the Pacific with a new concept, cheaper, around which, for the moment, two restaurants revolve: Barracuda MX (in Madrid) and Mantaraya MX (in Marbella).

“When MX point arrived, we were the only ones, today there are hundreds and we wanted to get away from it,” explains the chef. “Mexican cuisine is very extensive, we have 32 different concepts to assemble, and I say 32 because there are 32 states in which the Republic is divided ”.

Meals in Roberto Ruiz’s restaurants always start with his amazing guacamole. In Barracuda MX it is also served with chipped prawns. Great

A golden age of Mexican cuisine

In the decade that Ruiz has been in Spain, Mexican cuisine has ceased to be reserved for theme restaurants to make its way onto the menus of all large dining rooms. “I would almost dare to say that all the great chefs they have a mexican in their kitchen“, Explain. “You can see the Mexican influence everywhere.”

“When I arrived in this country it was difficult to get coriander”

Today there are many great Mexican restaurants in Spain, and specifically in Madrid, which has increased the availability of certain products that were previously very difficult to find, but also the interest in trying slopes of Mexican cuisine hardly known in Europe.

“That kitchen was always there, but it is the first time the world has scratched beyond the nachos,” explains Ruiz. “There was an incredible universe to discover and interpret. We Mexicans also took on the task of bringing out Mexican cuisine, of trying to make it travel well and to get to know each other properly. Nobody knew the word “nixtamalizado” or “totopos” and today they seem to be part of the normal vocabulary of a Spanish cook and it is integrated into all the letters. I am very happy about that. When I arrived in this country it was difficult to find coriander and avocados were always gray inside ”.

aguachile

One of the stars of Barracuda MX is the aguachiles, which are served with crunchy corn tostadas. This one of scallops, prawns and octopus marinated in chiltepin chile, cilantro and limes was incredible.

Mexican cuisine, Spanish product

In these restaurants we find many of the finds that Ruiz arrived at in Point Mx (like its very careful sauces or its unsurpassed guacamole), along with new dishes with fish and seafood as the protagonists.

“Taking advantage of the great Spanish products leads us to unique flavors”

“It is the summary of ten years of work in Spain,” says the chef, who insists on pointing out that his cuisine is already as Mexican as it is Spanish: “We could call it fusion, although Mexican and Spanish cuisine has been with this fusion for 500 years. It has always been a food back and forth. Taking advantage of the great Spanish products leads us to unique flavors. Use the marrow of a Galician blond cow and the Spanish bluefin tuna makes that dish can only happen here ”.

Tacos Collage 1

As in all Mexican restaurants, in Barracuda MX there are tacos. We really liked the version of the tacos al pastor, with Iberian pork (on the left) and the duck carnitas. Along with Mawey’s, the best in Madrid.

Ruiz assures that there is classic mexican elaborations that even impress their compatriots: “Lately many Mexicans have come to Madrid and they are surprised by the taste of tortillas, because in Mexico we don’t usually make them with organic corn or anything.”

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The truth is that the restaurant has had a capital reception. “It is permanently full”, assures the cook. “People go and repeat. I am very excited. It is the restaurant that we have best given birth to ”.

Bass

Main courses are where things get (very) serious. The sea bass to the size, cooked on the grill with two marinades, of guajillo chili and poblano chili, is accompanied by tortillas to make your own tacos. A pass of dish.

Stop to start over

The pandemic caught all the hoteliers with a different foot, but even more so to Ruiz and his team. While his colleagues worried about knowing when their restaurants could open, Ruiz was more entertained that Punto MX did not collapse: the building works provoked Water leaks that left the premises unworkable. The chef turned to MXRR, a successful delivery service, –which still works with solvency today– and to design new concepts like the one that concerns us today. In the end everything went well.

Looking back, Ruiz believes that, in the long run, the pandemic has been positive for his company: “It took away a lot of personal nonsense, a lot of fears. He had to get ahead. We are a group of people who have worked together for a long time and we could not stand idly by. This feeling of uncertainty it made us advance much more, gain in quality of life. I don’t want to thank the pandemic, but it catapulted us elsewhere. ”

Marrow

Along with the sea bass, the other star dish of Barracuda MX is the grilled marrow with toasted red tuna toasts, which is accompanied with toasts with avocado and an emulsion of serrano peppers. So brutal that it does not fit in a photo and we have to use the promo to show everything.

Along the way, and contrary to what has happened in the last year with most restaurants, Ruiz considered having a more affordable proposal. In Barracuda MX, a meal of the highest level is offered for a medium ticket that, cocktails and mezcals aside, can be around 50 euros.

“My way of understanding hospitality at this time is that luxury is being able to go out with your friends, enjoy and eat well at a moderate price, because not all of us come out of this strengthened ”, explains Ruiz.

This does not mean that, among his next projects, he will be a new restaurant higher profile, coming sooner rather than later. “We already have a place in Madrid and I think we will do something more gastro,” he confirms. “We would like to define it in January and it would be for the summer of next year. It is a very emblematic place, which is going to make a difference for us. We are now 10 years old in Madrid and I would like nothing more than that was the way to celebrate it in summer ”.

Trolley

Beware of the mezcal cart, which is loaded by the Devil.

What to ask for: Barracuda MX has a short menu, where it is easy to want it all. Better to go in a group to try the great dishes to share: sea bass made to measure (€ 43.80) and marrow with red tuna (€ 38.40), which are its two great hits. The memelas, panuchos and tacos are also delicious (between 14 and 15 euros). The cocktails (€ 14) are also a classic of the house, but they skyrocket the bill. And let’s not say the mezcal cart … If you do not plan to get home stumbling, better not touch it.

Practical data.
Where: Calle de Valenzuela, 7. Madrid.
Half price: € 50.
Bookings: 911 08 89 99 and on its website.
Schedules: Opens every day. Kitchen open until 4:00 p.m. for lunch and 11:00 p.m. for dinner. Reduced menu from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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