Mexico City’s reputation as one of the world’s top foodie destinations is, by all standards, very well deserved. From fine dining restaurants to traditional street food outlets, the city’s culinary offering is a twisting, turning array of vibrant eateries.
A burgeoning focus on local ingredients and artisanal purveyors has served to bolster Mexico City’s fine dining scene and one of the latest openings in this scene is Aúna – the latest concept from Jorge Vallejo, the pioneering chef at the helm of Quintonil. Judged as the best restaurant in Mexico (and ninth in the world) by the World’s 50 Best ranking, Quintonil is a champion of sustainable gastronomy, with many of its ingredients traveling just meters to the kitchen.
Developed in partnership with Fernando Torres (the chef, not the Spanish soccer player) Aúna is equally as concerned with pursuing a conscious, ingredient- and purveyor-driven take on modern Mexican fine dining. Housed in a neo-classical, 19th-century building in Mexico City’s upmarket Polanco neighborhood, Aúna bridges the gap between high-end cuisine and casual, comforting food.
Jorge Vallejo studied at culinary school in Mexico, before pursuing his culinary career aboard cruise ships. Back on dry land, he honed his skills at the no-introduction-necessary Noma in Copenhagen and Mexico City’s Pujol (currently ranked at number 13 on the World’s Best list).
In 2012 he opened the doors to Quintonil with his wife Alejandra Flores, and critical acclaim followed. (Michelin will be announcing its first Mexico guide in early 2024 and there are high hopes for Quintonil.)
Running the kitchens at Aúna is Fernando Torres, who has worked closely with Vallejo to create a diverse menu that is rooted in Mexican flavors and ingredients, without being afraid to borrow from other culinary influences. Torres brings with him a wealth of experience, including previous stints with Vallejo at Pujol and Quintonil.
The food at Aúna is billed as ‘honest,’ with a menu that primarily navigates Mexican culinary traditions and concepts borrowed from neighboring cultures and countries, as well as a few influences from further afield. Chef Torres and team are dedicated to working with local farmers to ensure ingredient traceability and ethical practices.
The initial selection of snacks includes a roasted garlic bagel smeared with crème fraiche and chipotle apricot jam, and house-made wood-fired bread served alongside hummus with pico de gallo, while the appetizer list offers Zitácuaro salmon served with pistachio puree, golden carrots and Korean-style kimchi.
In reflection of Mexico’s family-style approach to eating, many of Aúna’s main dishes are served to share. The slow-roasted, onion-glazed chicken, for example, is plonked straight in the middle of the table – along with a side of roasted potatoes in tzatziki and masala sauce – encouraging the whole table to convivially dig in.
Torres’s dishes are accompanied by a sustainably driven wine list, dominated by low-intervention bottles by carefully selected wine makers. The cocktail list is considerately made too, with a focus on the craft of mixology.
Aúna’s interiors elegantly match the casual yet refined nature of the dishes leaving its kitchen. Styled around a central courtyard garden, overflowing with ferns and trees, the design favors natural materials and textures such as wood, stone and exposed brick.
This earthy feel extends to the dinnerware, with purposefully misshapen ceramics giving a casual feel.
Anatole France 139, Polanco, Polanco III Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11550 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico, opentable.com