Restaurateur Eric Williams has enough titles under his belt to rival the luchadores (Spanish for Mexican wrestlers) memorialized on the walls of his twoMod Mexeateries: Momocho (Latin slang for "hellion little boy") in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood and El Carnicero (which means "the butcher" in Spanish) in nearby Lakewood.
As the base for chocolate, mole sauce, and tejate, the cacao bean earned its moniker as the “Food of the Gods” by boasting a multitude of health benefits and delivering a flavor that’s pleasing to the palate. Mayan and Aztecs may have put it on the map, but in South and Central America, Latinos have used this natural aphrodisiac for culinary applications since the 1400s, even trading cacao beans as a currency.
After a nearly two-year tenure at The Esquire Tavern with a James Beard Foundation nod for Outstanding Bar Program under his belt, San Antonio native Jeret Peña was named a Rising Star Mixologist by StarChefs.com and ended 2012 stepping out on his own – opening his first watering hole to critical acclaim with an all-star staff handpicked from the best bartenders at Le Midi, The Esquire Tavern, and the Culinary Institute of America’s Nao restaurant.
Mexico City-born chef Hugo Ortega rang in 2014 with the opening of Caracol,named for the caracoles (Spanish for sea snails) he was enchanted with when he visited Mexico while researching his first book
Since planting her roots in
San Antonio in 2008 as a Latin cuisine specialist at the Culinary Institute of America, chef-instructor Elizabeth Johnson has helped throngs
of budding chefs flourish in her craft.
Collaborating with area
farmers and the San Antonio Botanical Garden, Johnson redefined “locally
grown” when she founded the Latin Seed Research Program in 2009 and began cultivating
specialty Latin produce stateside that was unavailable commercially.
When we first met chef Johnny Hernandez he was presiding over a smoldering outdoor grill, preparing juicy carnitas for a few dozen guests who were seated inside to savor a rare brunch opportunity at Casa Hernán. Occupying the landscaped grounds and first floor of his opulent hacienda home near the banks of the San Antonio River, the intimate event venue is a popular choice for brides and corporate execs and features the Mexican fare of True Flavors Catering company he co-owns with his siblings Letty and Mark.
Tasty Tex-Mex restaurants are a peso a dozen in Dallas. On one side of the coin, you’ll find heaping portions-a-plenty of predictable plates that rarely disappoint, while on the other, you must scour many a common cocina to uncover a truly memorable meal.
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