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At the Table With…Roberto Santibañez

A native of Mexico City, Roberto Santibañez first discovered the wonders of the kitchen with his grandmother, who taught him that cooking didn't always have to be done with a recipe in hand. After working in kitchens through college, Santibañez set out for Europe, graduating from the famed Le Corden Bleu. After stints in England, Mexico City, and Texas, Santibañez settled in New York, serving as culinary director for Rosa Mexicano. His first cookbook, Rosa's New Mexican Table was nominated for a James Beard Award, his second, Truly Mexican, was listed as one of the Notable Cookbooks of 2011 by The New York Times. His latest cookbook, Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales came out late last year (to read our review, click here).

Since publishing his cookbook, Santibañez again made headlines when he collaborated with April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (of Spotted Pig, John Dory, and Breslin fame) on New York's latest taco hotspot, Salvation Taco, in the Pod 39 hotel.  We caught up with the busy owner of Fonda restaurants in New York City and Brooklyn to talk food memories, indulgences, and his perfect meals.


TLK: Dish you crave from mom or abuela:

Fideos secos.



TLK: Secret ingredient to make a dish pop:



TLK: Favorite city to eat in:

New York and Atlanta


TLK: Secret to a perfect dinner party:

PLAN and make things ahead of time!


TLK: Biggest food indulgence:



TLK: Favorite vegetable:

Nopales (prickly pear pads)


TLK: Best food memory:

Eating at Oaxaca’s central market when I was a kid.


TLK: Ideal breakfast, lunch and dinner:

Breakfast: Huevos Motuleños

Lunch: Black bean bowl with queso fresco, cream and salsa Mexicana

Dinner: A piece of well-seasoned grilled steak


TLK: Favorite Latin cocktail:

Donaji (Mezcal with orange juice and chile salts)


TLK: Favorite kitchen gadget:

At home, I like the Osterizer center blender—one hit, one button. In my restaurants, we have a Vitamix.


TLK: Perfect songs to cook to:

Mexican boleros


TLK: Most adventurous food you eat:

Toasted Jumiles (a small insect)


TLK: Favorite fusion:



Want more? Take a bite out of authentic Mexican food with this chilaquiles recipe from Santibañez.


Chilquiles Verdes con Epazote

  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, washed
  • 4 chiles serranos
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large stems of epazote (leafs only)
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil or any available vegetable oil
  • 10 stale corn tortillas 
  • 4 tablespoons crema or crème fraiche
  • 4 ounces queso fresco shredded or cut in small cubes
  • 1/2 small white onion sliced

Get the full recipe.

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