On Friday, November 30, the 2nd Annual Taste of Mexico filled the Los Angeles night air with the wail of a mariachi siren, tears of agave, and the unmistakable aroma of fresh and roasted chiles. The sophomore effort by founders Ricardo Cervantes (La Monarca Bakery), Bricia Lopez (Guelaguetza), Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu (La Casita Mexicana), and Vicente Del Rio (Frida /Casa Azul Cantina) grew from four vendors last year to 17 this time around, with attendance exceeding their expectations, counting over 1,300 people happily eating and drinking it all in.
Taste of Mexico’s mission is to show people that “there’s more to Mexican cuisine than just tacos and burritos,” and to bring some “positive news about Mexico,” according to founding member Bricia Lopez. “We want people to think of food when they think of Mexico, not about cartels and violence,” she continued.
There was something for everyone at this event: Coni’Seafood made tacos out of their famous pescado zarandeado (shaken fish), small but deadly spiced tortas ahogadas (“drowned” sandwiches) from Tortas Bravas, and Cacao Mexicatessen’s take on surf and turf—chicharron and sea urchin tostaditas. But the highlight of the night was learning that chef Katsuji Tanabe (Mexikosher) flew his suegra (mother-in-law) in from Colima, Mexico just to help prepare a delicious and fruity mole over a sweet picadillo on a chip, a bite-sized version of traditional Coliman enchiladas dulces, or sweet enchiladas. (Now that is a taste of Mexico!)
Photograph by Bill Esparza
No Mexican event would be complete without edecanes—the warm, sexy, Latina brand representatives flashing the logos of Victoria beer, Wild West Boots, and paQuí tequila—but bartenders Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix (La Descarga, Harvard & Stone, Black Market Liquor Bar, Pour Vous) stole the show with their matching baby blue, faux leather norteño musician outfits as they mixed spicy and sweet sones (sounds) of mezcal in their cocktail shakers.
Taste of Mexico definitely proved that throwing an awesome Mexican celebration isn’t that hard to do; just have some mariachis to sing along to, keep the liquor flowing, and plate some delicious, authentic Mexican food. And next year, the party is going even bigger—more restaurants, more music, more edecanes, and more of the Los Angeles Latino scene—and they’re not going home until the lights go out.