On a quiet street in Cuauhtémoc, just blocks away from some of Mexico City’s most recognizable landmarks, a slick, colorful sign and unusual name – Comichurros & Empanadas – call out loudly for attention. Inside, the place buzzes with youthful energy and social media and branding savvy: the walls are boldly decorated with floor-to-ceiling drawings of superheroes, onomatopoeic sound effects both old and new (“BAM! THWOK! CHURROS!”) and signs offering customers free churros in exchange for likes, check-ins and tweets. This is an eatery for the 21st century.
In keeping with the theme, the menu lists the options in vivid color and cheeky language. Empanadas are organized into Básicas, Las acá (the fancy ones) and, naturally, Las muy acá. It turns out we may be highly suggestible, as we ended up ordering one of each from the last section: jamón serrano con queso de cabra (serrano ham with goat cheese), sálmon ahumado con queso crema (smoked salmon with cream cheese) and three quesos, the savory pastry folded around gouda, blue cheese and parmesan. We were particularly impressed by the freshness of the empanadas – it turns out they are deep-fried right before being served, rather than being allowed to wilt under a heat lamp.
The spot – and its churros recipe, we were told – is the brainchild of two Mexico City publicists, which helps explain Comichurros’ marketing skills. Manning the deep fryer, though, are two young chefs, Aarón Alvarado and Rodrigo Morales, who have expanded the menu to include a variety of tasty burritos, salads and – most intriguingly – what they call rollos. A rollo, Alvarado explained, is cheese melted and cooked on the griddle to form a crust that is then filled with different types of meat and rolled up. Like so many other foods that might appeal to the stoner gourmet, this is pure genius.
The namesake “comichurros” are bite-sized and thinner than traditional churros and come with dipping sauces, including ones made with whiskey, cajeta (goat’s milk caramel), Nutella, Baileys, blackberry and condensed milk. These churros and the regular-size ones are quite different from the traditional churros sold elsewhere in Mexico City. The dough is precooked and then fried for a shorter period of time, resulting in a churro that is crispy on the outside and very soft on the inside. We’re more into the traditional kind, but there’s plenty of other menu items that’ll bring us back.
It would be easy to write off Comichurros & Empanadas as all style and no substance except that the food is legit. Plus, we’re excited to see fresh ideas from young people popping up alongside traditional old eateries in the city, and this concept lets everyone have some fun. Welcome to the future of Mexican street food.