Amid all of the eye-catching prospers put in inside Maïz64, a uncommon new choice for Mexican positive eating in D.C., a very powerful could look like essentially the most humble. Contemplating the glass cubes that show golden-dipped casts of corn with akimbo husks, a communal desk made out of a slab of parota wooden that weighs greater than a ton, and a charcoal-burning Spanish oven seen by way of an open kitchen, prospects who enter the refurbished restaurant within the outdated B Too house (1324 14th Road NW) close to Logan Circle may breeze proper previous the squat, white chimney with a round steel high tucked behind a small bar on the entrance. This gas-fired comal, the flat-top range historically chargeable for cooking tortillas, is the place chef Alam Méndez Florián plans to showcase Maïz64’s namesake ingredient.
Beginning Tuesday, October 5, Maïz64 will supply an a la carte menu (full model beneath) that folds Mid-Atlantic produce into the kind of refined cooking that Méndez Florián, a 31-year-old Oaxaca native, has turn into identified for at Pasillo de Humo in Mexico Metropolis and at pop-ups all over the world. As soon as the restaurant finds its footing, a six-seat bar surrounding the comal will function a theater for a seven- to eight-course tasting menus that can embrace a wide range of tacos — and triangular stuffed tetelas, quesadillas, crispy tostadas, or different masa-based dishes, all ready à la minute — that hammer dwelling a deep connection to the sacks of heirloom Mexican corn stacked within the prep kitchen downstairs.
The 64 within the restaurant’s title refers back to the variety of corn breeds that have been identified as Mexican. When Méndez Florián reveals off a couple of kernels of blue corn harvested from the state of Tlaxcala and destined to turn into tortillas, he hesitates earlier than tossing them within the rubbish. “In my mother’s city they don’t let anybody throw away corn kernels,” he says. “We give it to the chickens.” Whereas explaining the importance of maiz, or corn, in Mexican tradition, he references a Mayan story of creation.
“They are saying that the boys had been made with corn masa. That’s the explanation we wish to symbolize it in our restaurant and our title as some ways as we will,” he says. “For us, it’s the bottom of our meals and has the identical worth as gold.”
Maïz64 will use 4 totally different colours of corn, turning complete kernels into masa by way of the method of nixtamalization and on-site grinding with a molino the dimensions of a small horse. Tortillas act as the bottom for artfully plated tacos with fillings like a terrine of pressed suckling pig that will get adorned with lime-green dots of avocado puree, a tomatillo relish, and pork rinds. A charred broccoli taco comes with cashews and a black mole that begins with a mom sauce from Oaxaca. Tortillas arrive on the aspect for an oven-roasted octopus al pastor Méndez Florián accents with eggplant ash puree and grilled pineapple relish. Charred eggplant additionally joins tomatillos and jalapenos in a pounded salsa martajada that will probably be one rotation of the 2 desk sauces the chef will often supply.
A vegetable tostada, made with yellow corn for a coarser crunch, helps a Yucatan pumpkin seed sauce and a confetti of crisp produce (jicama, bell peppers, seaweed, cucumber, pink onion) with a pink chile emulsion, salsa macha, and cilantro. That dish underscores the concept that Méndez Florián will pull from a number of areas, which explains a bicoastal journey from pibil-style roasted hen breast with potatoes, fennel, and mint, to a Pacific-referencing, butterflied fish a la talla that’s marinated in morita and pasilla chiles and coated in a spicy mayonnaise earlier than it hits the grill.
One of many dishes Méndez Florián is most excited to serve is a portion of lobster and mussels ($38) which have been seared in butter, organized over a mussel tamal that substitutes the mollusk’s broth for water, and served with a lobster and epazote herb bisque. On the lighter aspect, there’s a cacuts paddle salad with fava bean puree and a soft-boiled egg in a lime and oregano French dressing with cilantro and mint.
Méndez Florián will nonetheless commute backwards and forwards to Mexico, though he’s pledged to stay round D.C. to supervise the opening levels of the restaurant. All of the touring could have contributed to a poor early review from the Washington Put up at Urbano 116, the Previous City Alexandria restaurant that represented the chef’s entry to the D.C.-area dining scene. After a yr of enterprise, it flipped into a Tex-Mex strategy that catered to the tourist-heavy neighborhood however led Méndez Florián to go away.
At Maïz64, Méndez Florián introduced on an outdated good friend from culinary faculty with a formidable resume to handle the day-to-day operations. Jessica Camarena says she’s labored with Michelin star chef Christopher Kostow in California and spent two years at Pujol, maybe essentially the most well-known restaurant in Mexico.
Pastry chef Elisa Reyna will combine French method and Mexican flavors with seasonal sorbets and ice lotions in flavors like mango, strawberry, and vanilla grapefruit. Her model of fresas con crema (strawberries and cream) accommodates vanilla panna cotta, yogurt sponge cake, a queso fresco ice cream, strawberry sorbet, strawberry jelly, and freeze-dried strawberries. A chocolate mousse comes with Swiss meringue and café de olla (spiced espresso) sorbet. Mexico-based mixologist Arturo Rojas consulted on drink menu that features a tequila and amaranth horchata cocktail. A basement bar with a extra informal meals menu and beers from either side of the border is predicted to open in a couple of months.
With its focus on heirloom corn masa, forthcoming tasting menu format, and upscale strategy, Maïz64 guarantees to carry D.C. the kind of Mexican positive eating venue town hasn’t seen since Victor Albisu shuttered Poca Madre over a yr in the past. Whether or not it fulfills that potential stays to be seen, however the restaurant seems primed so as to add a novel perspective to a Mexican food scene around D.C. that has dramatically improved over the previous 20 years.