In 2013, I arrived at Pujol restaurant in Mexico City for lunch amidst a five-week cross-country trip from Puerto Vallarta to Playa del Carmen.
The journey from Pacific beaches to the blue agave fields of Guadalajara had been exciting, but it was just the beginning.
I quickly grew fond of Mexico's sprawling capital, so full of restaurants, museums, parks, and people. (Since moving to Austin in 2016, I've returned four times.)
Lunch at Mexican chef Enrique Olvera's flagship restaurant, Pujol, was a highlight.
At the time, it ranked #17 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. It was the highest-ranked restaurant offering Mexican cuisine.
Later that year, Pujol appeared at #3 on the new list of best restaurants in Latin America by the same organization.
In 2019, it ranked #12 on the list of the world's best restaurants, its highest placing to-date.
[Chef Olvera doesn't put too much stock in these rankings, as he told me himself when I ran into him on my way out of Pujol.]
He got his formal training at The Culinary Institute of America. His story was featured in Season 2, Episode 4 of Chef's Table (Netflix).
My Experience at Pujol
On the day of my reservation, I walked through Mexico City's historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Museo Mural Diego Rivera, Palacio del Bellas Artes, and Catedral Metropolitana are a few of the notable places I saw before hailing a taxi to the tony Polanco neighborhood.
Arriving at the world's best Mexican restaurant a few minutes before 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon, I was shown inside by the doorman.
A single dining room with black walls, white tablecloths, and a wood floor offered enough space for just 13 tables, a number chosen for its luck.
As I wrote in my 2013 review for Go Backpacking, "the wait staff worked harmoniously together throughout the two-hour lunch, and most (if not all) were bilingual."
The following pictures are from the 11-course tasting menu on May 4, 2013.
This pork dish was my favorite course of the lunch.
Underneath this palm-sized circle of mole is a thin tortilla.
The Mole Madre (Mother Mole) had a strong, slightly spicy flavor.
In 2013, the 11-course tasting menu cost me 890 pesos ($69). The total cost, including a mojito, tax, and tip, was $106.
What's Changed Since 2013
After chef Olvera opened Cosme in New York City in 2014, he discovered his preference for more casual settings.
In early 2017, he re-opened Pujol restaurant at a new, larger location in Polanco.
Gone are the black walls and tablecloths, replaced by neutral colors, skylights, and beautiful mid-century modern furniture. See Eater for photos of the new interior.
Diners can now choose from two seven-course tasting menus (corn and sea) for either lunch or dinner.
Alternatively, sit at the bar for a taco omakase experience if you want to further lean into the informality of dining at Pujol 2.0.
I had plans to try both menus at Pujol during a trip in May (now postponed indefinitely).
Related: The Best Restaurants in Mexico City
Plan Your Visit
Address: Tennyson 133, Polanco, Mexico City, Mexico
Reservations: highly recommended