La Huasteca, a region in Mexico that extends through several eastern states, including San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Hidalgo, Querétaro and Puebla, gets its name from the pre-Hispanic civilization that inhabited the area. There are still some indigenous Huastec communities that live in the region, and like those of the rest of the country, their local food and customs have been highly influenced by the Spanish conquest and the influx of immigrants both domestic and international.
The resulting cuisine is one that chef Alfonso Girón is very proud of. Born in D.F., but raised in the state of Veracruz by his grandmother, Girón opened El Beso Huasteco in Colonia Roma more than three years ago with his business partners – mostly family – to bring this delicious food to the capital. “To have a restaurant was our dream since we were children,” Girón says.
The recipes he uses come from his family and different parts of la Huasteca. To have a little taste of many of the menu items, we ordered the Degustación Huasteca, a platter with typical appetizers from the region: bocoles (a corn patty filled with meat or egg), moletes (little corn balls filled with potato) and tacos de barbacoa, huasteca-style. If you’re visiting the restaurant for lunch between Tuesday and Friday, we recommend getting the Menú Ejecutivo, a two-course meal that changes every day and only costs around US$8.
Other items on the menu that we highly recommend are the zacahuil, the typical tamal of la Huasteca that can weigh up to 100 kg (Girón’s zacahuiles weigh 15 kg) and is meant to be divided among a group of diners, the pozoles (green, red or white), the filete de pescado al mojo de ajo (a fish fillet marinated in garlic) and our favorite, the bésame mucho dish, a delicious combination of perfectly cooked beef, two succulent pipián enchiladas, refried beans, fresh cheese and a grilled nopal – enough food to feed the hungriest customer.
Old Mexican black-and-white movies played on the flat-screen TV above us while we finished off our meal with the wonderful chocolate lava cake and a café americano, admiring our beautiful surroundings. At El Beso Huasteco, everything is for sale, except the staff, as stated on the menu. The art, crafts, lamps, china, tables and chairs are all made by indigenous artisans. The owners of El Beso Huasteco help them by decorating and furnishing the restaurant with their work and offering it to their customers. It’s the perfect – and delicious – combination of art and commerce.