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It's all about food at Mixtli in San Antonio

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Food is the center of attention and conversation at the one community table for 12 found at Mixtli. The following is picked up from my blog about our recent experience:

Hopped a dining car bound for Jalisco last night via the Olmos Park roundabout – Mixtli

It was a short two-hour journey, packed with tantalizing flavors aboard a parked railcar behind a strip center on McCullough that has proven the downfall of many a restaurant owner.

But, thanks in part to the major impact of the Culinary Institute of America’s campus at Pearl as graduates emerge to challenge San Antonio’s collective palate, the chefs undertaking this venture called Mixtli quickly have created a buzz well beyond San Antonio. Chef Diego Galicia is a product of CIA Texas and has had stints at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, Moto in Chicago and Lüke in San Antonio. Mixologist Jesse Torres is poised to graduate this spring from the San Antonio campus. Chef Rico Torres has extensive catering experience, and wine partner Veronique Cecila Baretto of Vinously Speaking loves to seek out small-production vineyards around the world.

What they are offering San Antonians is something remarkably different. For one, there are only 12 seats at one community table each night. And the table is right next to the open kitchen.

Portions are small, which is great because having somewhere between eight and ten different courses, each with different beverages, would be impossible to swallow otherwise. The menu is fixed, drawn from a single state in Mexico for a period of about six weeks. Descriptions on the menu are deceptively simple, but you have no choices to make anyway.

Traditional dishes are deconstructed and given radical makeovers with locally sourced ingredients from operations such as South Texas Heritage Pork Farm, Koch Ranches and Ferrra Coffee Roaster. Ancient techniques, such as roasting cacao beans for fresh chocolate and soaking corn in an alkaline solution – nixtomal – for fresh masa, are combined with contemporary presentation and approaches to cooking, such as sous vide.

A trio of petite sopes, cakes of masa, featured three different toppings – one with swordfish, one with a scallop and one with a smoked oyster and caviar. Traditional ingredients of caldo michi, a seafood stew, never met the broth and were molded into a tiny timbal of seafood, chayote, radish and celery. The standard torta ahogada, or drowned sandwich, of Jalisco was transformed into a capped roll stuffed with braised beef with a salsa of chile arbol and a warm tomato sauce on the side for dipping. The cerdo al pastor rose far above street-food presentation to become a falling-off-the-bone-tender pork rib topped with pineapple and dabs of a cilantro salsa.

The greasy, goat birria – a chile stew – we encountered in Guadalajara many decades ago left me never wanting another meeting. But, in the hands of the chefs at Mixtli, it was translated into a moist, rare lamb chop prepared sous vide, with the guajillo chile salsa on the side. The thick tejuno, a coarse beverage made from fermented corn masa, was catapulted with an unexpected layer of flavor from a scoop of lime sorbet in the center. For dessert, yes, you do finally reach that destination, burnt sugar is hardened and cracked atop a snake of vanilla custard topped with bursts of flavor from dehydrated berries.

Beverages were harder for me to keep track of…. But all were all consumed, including cucumber and mango agua fresca; an on-premise carbonated bottle of tequila and grapefruit juice; a tequila anejo rimmed with salt combined with ground chile, salt and charales – tiny fried fish; Mexican coke; beer; Viognier white wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; a concoction of cacao and tequila; and Chiapan coffee. A deadly sounding combination of beverages if not served with food and in small quantities.

Sorry. There is only one seat available for this destination, and the last trip for this particular culinary adventure departs tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

But next week, the crew will be ready to magically transport you to the Yucatan. Tickets, including all food and pairings, are $80 per person. All aboard!

Links and more photos are available on the original blog posting: http://postcardsfromsanantonio.wordpr...

 
 
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  1. Went there two weeks ago. Had a great time, but the portion sizes are ridiculous.
    Knew they were small ahead of time, so ate a late lunch. Even still, almost everyone at the table asked where we were going to eat when we were done. I don't want huge, SA typical portions, but after $100/pp dinner, I shouldn't be starving. I ate a bagel and lox sandwich when I got home.
    Beverage pairings were almost laughable. They paired one course with a beer. One 12 oz beer for 12 people! I know the beverages are "donated", so I didn't expect much, but 1 oz of beer?
    I'd rather pay more and be satiated.
    Would be good to let customers know they can and should bring their own beverages. Many at the table brought their own wine.
    I did email them and they said they would be tweaking the portion sizes.
    The food was so good, I will give them another shot.

    4 Replies
    1. re: saeyedoc

      Must admit that Mister felt he could have eaten more. I really enjoyed not getting so full early in the meal that I could not take a bite of the final courses. We also had a couple of glasses of wine prior to heading over there.... But what the chefs are doing at Mixtli seems so novel for San Antonio, it's worth following them on their journey through the states of Mexico.

      1. re: postcardsfromsanantonio

        Had this on my wishlist for a while, but had also heard criticism on portion size that had me on the fence when it came time to buying a ticket. Speaking of, is it $75,80, or 100 pp? Have seen all three numbers quoted, are you expected to tip (never carry cash) as well, or is it considered a total (tax/tip inc) on the ticket?

        1. re: Sam Spade

          The menu for the Yucatan, http://restaurantmixtli.com/menu/, reads $80 plus tax. I think I'd feel uncomfortable not tipping, so I'd recommend taking cash.

          1. re: postcardsfromsanantonio

            $80pp + tax. Most people left $20pp tip. I didn't get offered an option to tip on a CC.